Get a Gratitude Attitude

I need to go back to California; not just because they have sunshine, mega burritos and Disneyland, but because I want to go to a place called Cafe Gratitude. I love the sound of it! It’s a chain of organic vegetarian restaurants which names its dishes things like ‘I am happy’ to make you feel good when you order them. On top of that as they take your order staff ask you a question that helps you appreciate life. Yes, I know it’s so California it’s frightening, but right now I need to focus about things I have in life – not wallow, whining about things that are disappearing and so humour me, I’m going flower child for a day.

Before I disappear off in a waft of Patchouli twiddling daisies though, I have realised something quite useful. Getting a Gratitude Attitude is a really good way to think positively about diet and fitness goals too. And thinking positively leads to success. Here’s three things to try….

1)      Rename your five favourite healthy dishes in ways that embrace how good they are for you. Try things like I am successful, I feel nourished, I am strong, I am happy. Or create five workouts with the same names. How would you not want to go and do a workout or eat a salad you’ve named ‘I am happy?’

2)  Come up with a question of the day that helps you look for good in living a healthy life. Ask what five things you did that improved your health or wellbeing in some way? What five healthy foods are you glad you ate? Find five things you loved about your run/walk/swim?. Again, once you know why it’s awesome why would you not keep doing it?

3) Appreciate someone daily. Staff in the cafe regularly thank each other for help throughout the day. Start thinking about who helped you live healthier today – and thank them. It might be your partner who watched the kids while you went for your workout, whoever was singing that kick ass song on the radio that got you through the last rep. Or even yourself you when said no to an unhealthy choice.  Flower Child Helen says to do this because it’s a nice thing to do – normal, cynical Helen says ‘and then they might do it again in the future.’ But I’m not listening to her today.


Oh and if you’re wondering why I’m whiny and wallowing, it’s because yesterday was a sad day for health journalism. The magazine Zest closed down. For me it’s the end of an era. I wrote my first ever piece as a freelancer for them and I was literally typing another job for them when I heard the news – 14 years had passed between those two dates. But it’s more than just a sad moment for me. It’s a sad moment for health.

Print publishing is dying as we all get more and more information online and sales fall. I see so many people saying ‘I don’t read magazines, now, I read blogs.’ And yes, I see why blogs work in some areas – and I also know that I’m contributing to things by writing a blog of my own but to me this blog – and most of the ones I read – are very different from  a magazine. It’s useful, but it’s fun. I don’t question things in the same way as I would with a magazine piece, I don’t ask 10 experts’ opinions for one article and read a heap of scientific papers, and I don’t tackle controversial subjects. I can’t – I don’t have the financial resources, I don’t have the power of a big name that everyone has heard of to get experts to return my calls, and I don’t have a lawyer to check someone isn’t going to threaten to sue my butt off if I say something they might not like even if it’s true (yes, they try that and it’s scary and intimidating when you get the letter). I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist or any kind of expert on anything except putting words on a page. All of that impacts on what I can say as an individual.

And that’s why when magazines like Zest disappear it’s a concern for all of us, not just people like me who earn their living that way. A health magazine prides itself on accuracy. It has to. That information is expert referenced and double checked for accuracy. If they want to say something that a big company might not like, but it was important to get out there, there’s a nice lawyer in a suit checking it’s right – and covering their back when the nasty letters appear. I know some individuals do that online ( for one) but it takes a lot of balls – and most of us, me included, don’t have ones big enough! This erodes the different sources of information we have to draw on and the less places people have to go to to get unbiased, accurate, up-to-date, health information the less control we have over our own health. As I say, it’s a sad day for me, a sad day for the amazing team at Zest and I feel, it’s a sad day for all of us who care about being well. Sermon over. Now, go back to the happy bit at the top.


Main image:

Plate image: Cafe Gratitude




  1. Jo Waters

    Agree with you Helen – gone all pensive myself about how many magazines will survive the digital revolution. I write online loads now but still love to flick through a glossy mag hope they’re still with us in 10 years x

  2. bitzyfit

    Sad to hear that news, Zest was the one I always bought and trusted – such a shame.

    1. healthehelen

      Yes, lots of people going to miss it.

  3. David Bonnell

    I read all the same magazines I used to, just online. In fact I subscribe to more than I used to because they’re cheaper, Atlantic, Harpers, Mother Jones, Bicycling and so on. The other interesting thing that will emerge is that whereas your audience used to be local, say for your daily paper, that paper will soon realise it has an international audience that it can pitch too. Eventually people will realise that paid content is worth it and will go back to buying decent writing. (Well I hope so).

    1. healthehelen

      I think I’m just a luddite. I hate staring at screens reading things in the evening – probably because I do it 10 hours a day already.

  4. Sally Brown

    It was such a great magazine – lively, great ideas, nicely designed, well-written (of course!) but that’s not enough these days.

    Reply this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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