Category Archives: wellbeing

improve your digestion naturally

Standard

Alternatives to Digestive Enzymes

Now that you understand why we are lacking in these enzymes, you may ask, why not just decongest the bile and pancreatic ducts and improve the bile flow?

My sentiments exactly! Here’s how:

Step 1: Eat more raw beets and leafy greens. Greens should make up 2/3 of your plate. The cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight!

Step 2: Drink fenugreek tea. It acts a decongestant for the bile ducts and helps support normal bile flow.

Step 3: Have cinnamon with every meal. Cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar while supporting health bile flow.

Step 4: Mix 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. Shake and drink every morning or night on an empty stomach for one month. This will exercise the liver and gallbladder while supporting healthy bile flow in the bile and pancreatic ducts.

Step 5: Drink a big glass of water 15-20 minutes before each meal. This will super-hydrate your stomach, encouraging it to produce more hydrochloric acid and increasing the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.

Step 6: Consider regular detoxification of the liver and fat cells, which store toxins that are processed through the liver. Regularly cleansing these is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal digestion.

 

from elephant journal http://www.elephantjournal.com/author/dr-john-douillard/

Increasing Focus: Calming the Craziness

Standard

AUGUST 6, 2012

As I was driving home through the city today I was distracted by all of the commotion outside of my car.  Tractor trailers were banging and clanging quickly past me. On the sidewalk, construction workers were shouting to one another, finishing up the day’s work. Loud noises, such as radios and car horns, were invading my quiet space. My thoughts were scattered and I was having a hard time concentrating on one thing at a time. My mind was racing from topic to topic. Then I realized; it all reminded me of a busy day on a nursing unit!

I know we have all had experiences like these: getting interrupted while calculating medication dosages, being called to the telephone while in the middle of patient teaching, or hearing a bed alarm and rushing away from talking to a family member about how their loved one is doing. This is the nature of our position as a nurse. We need to be in a million different places all at one time. We care for many people at the same time. We have so much to get done each day and so much responsibility on our shoulders. It can be a distracting role with its multiple facets and tasks.

Is anyone else cringing at the thought of “chaos” and “exhaustion” too?!?

One way to decrease distraction during your day-to-day routine is by using positive affirmations. Stating positive declarations can create greater focus, increased concentration and a sense of balance. Taking time out each day to sit quietly, breathe, and state these things either to yourself or aloud can have a deep impact on your happiness, peace of mind, and health.

When you take a minute to consciously quiet the mind, you create a mental space that is free from disruption. With practice, you can call upon this “space” of mind at any point during a busy shift.

Here is what you do. Make time each day, either in the morning or the evening, to quietly state each affirmation. Reflect on what it means to you. You can also begin to add affirmations of your own as you become comfortable with the process. Take a slow and deep breath in and out through your nose between each of the affirmations. Become aware how you feel and start to notice any shifts in energy, mood, or stress levels. Also, observe how you relate to others; your patients, your family, your friends, or your colleagues. Here are some statements I use that can help you get started:

  • I am exactly where I need to be as my journey in life reveals itself to me.
  • I honor my mind, body, and soul and treat each aspect of my being with respect.
  • I am a confident, knowledgeable, and successful role model as I inspire others to be the same.
  • I know great joy and peace and therefore have wonderful energy.
  • My speech is a form of love.
  • I am limitless in my capacity for joy, healing, and happiness.
  • I will achieve perfect balance and be successful in all that I take on.

Realizing that you are worth it and taking the time to sit quietly with your own positive thoughts will greatly affect your life on many levels. You will create a way to cope with distraction during your busy days. You will generate a calmer presence through slowing down and breathing. Knowing that you are a wholesome force of good that deserves peace and joy in your life will create a space of being able to receive for yourself. You deserve great happiness, peace, and love in your life.  Make room for yourself!

 

~Elizabeth “Coach” Scala is a Holistic Health Nurse, Integrative Wellness Coach, & Reiki Master who Guides Nurses that are Ready for a Total Wellness Transition on a Mind-Body-Emotion-Spirit Level. Find her and more information at www.livingsublimewellness.com.

10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life

Standard

By Stacey Kennelly | July 23, 2012

We get plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events. But can we deliberately enhance the impact of good things on our lives?

Browse the self-help shelf of your local bookstore and you’ll find plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events, from divorce to illness to death.

But what about dealing with the good ones? Reaching the top of a magnificent waterfall. Hearing your child’s laugh. Seeing your favorite band perform your favorite song.

“It’s been presumed that when good things happen, people naturally feel joy for it,” says Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago. His research, however, suggests that we don’t always respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.

Bryant is the father of research on “savoring,” or the concept that being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events can increase happiness in the short and long run.

“It is like swishing the experience around … in your mind,” says Bryant, author of the 2006 book, Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience.

His research and the research of others—like Erica Chadwick, who recently completed a dissertation on savoring at Victoria University in New Zealand, and Jordi Quoidbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University—has identified myriad benefits to savoring, including stronger relationships, improved mental and physical health, and finding more creative solutions to problems.

Bryant is in the process of analyzing a wide range of studies on savoring to determine what works and what doesn’t. Already, he has distilled his research into 10 succinct ways for us to develop savoring as a skill.

1. Share your good feelings with others.

“What’s the first thing you do when you get good news?” Bryant says. “You go and tell someone that’s important to you, like a spouse or a friend.”

He suggests that we treat positive events just like positive news. Tell another person when you are feeling particularly appreciative of a certain moment, whether it be a laugh with friends or a scene in nature. Studies about the ways people react to positive events have shown that those who share positive feelings with others are happier overall than those who do not.

In fact, research shows that one only has to think about telling others good news in order to feel happier, says Chadwick.

“You fake it ‘til you make it,” she says. “If people are unhappy and put a smile on their face, within an hour or so they’ll be happier because they’re getting smiled at by other people. That interaction works.”

“Savoring is the glue that bonds people together, and it is essential to prolonging relationships,” Bryant says. “People who savor together stay together.”

2. Take a mental photograph.

Pause for a moment and consciously be aware of things you want to remember later, such as the sound of a loved one’s chuckle, or a touching moment between two family members.

In one study, participants who took a 20-minute walk every day for one week and consciously looked for good things reported feeling happier than those who were instructed to look for bad things.

“It’s about saying to yourself, ‘This is great. I’m loving it,’” says Bryant.

3. Congratulate yourself.

Don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back and take credit for your hard work, Bryant says. Research shows that people who revel in their successes are more likely to enjoy the outcome.

Bryant notes that self-congratulation is not encouraged in all cultures, especially Eastern ones, where many individuals downplay their achievements or believe a good experience is likely to be followed by a bad one.

“They tend to tell themselves not to get carried away,” he says, “but in our culture, we say, ‘This is great and going to continue.’”

4. Sharpen your sensory perceptions.

Valeria Palmuli

Getting in touch with your senses—or taking the time to use them more consciously—also flexes savoring muscles.

With all the distractions we face today, this is particularly difficult, Bryant says. In one study, college students who focused on the chocolate they were eating reported feeling more pleasure than students who were distracted while eating.

Chadwick suggests slowing down during meals.

“Take the time to shut out your other senses and hone in on one,” she says. “Take the time to sniff the food, smell the food. Or close your eyes while you’re taking a sip of a really nice wine.”

5. Shout it from the rooftops.

Laugh out loud, jump up and down, and shout for joy when something good happens to you, Bryant says.

People who outwardly express their good feelings tend to feel extra good, because it provides the mind with evidence that something positive has occurred. Several experiments have found that people who expressed their feelings while watching a funny video enjoyed themselves more than those who suppressed their feelings.

Bryant notes that some forms of positive expression are based on cultural context. For example, jumping with joy is acceptable in American culture, whereas it is considered inappropriate in many Eastern cultures and therefore would be less likely to have a positive impact.

6. Compare the outcome to something worse.

Boost positive feelings by reminding yourself of how bad things could be, Bryant suggests. For example, if you are late to work, remind yourself of those who may not have a job at all.

Comparing good experiences with unpleasant ones gives us a reference point and makes our current situation seem better, he says.

7. Get absorbed in the moment.

Try to turn off your conscious thoughts and absorb positive feelings during a special moment, such as taking in a work of art. Studies of positive experiences indicate that people most enjoy themselves when they are totally absorbed in a task or moment, losing their sense of time and place—a state that psychologists call “flow.”

Children are particularly good at this, Bryant says, but it’s tougher for adults, who are easily distracted by technology and the temptation to multitask.

Chadwick recommends pausing and reflecting on positive experiences on the spot.

8.Count your blessings and give thanks.

Tell your loved ones how lucky you feel to have them, Bryant suggests, or take extra time to appreciate your food before a meal.

Research suggests that saying “thank you” out loud can make us happier by affirming our positive feelings. Bryant also suggests thinking of a new blessing for which you’ve never given thanks each night in bed. Recalling the experience through thanks will help you to savor it.

9. Avoid killjoy thinking.

Avoiding negative thinking is just as important as thinking positively, Bryant says.

After a rough day, try not to focus on the negative things that occurred. Studies show that the more negative thoughts people have after a personal achievement, the less likely they are to enjoy it.

“People who savor the positive sides to every situation are happier at the end of the day,” he says.

10. Remind yourself of how quickly time flies.

Remember that good moments pass quickly, and tell yourself to consciously relish the moment, Bryant says. Realizing how short-lived certain moments are and wishing they could last longer encourages you to enjoy them while they’re happening.

In fact, savoring can be used to connect you to the past or future, argues Bryant. This can be done by remembering a good time and recreating it, or imagining a time in the future when you will look back with good memories.

“If you’re working hard on a project, take the time to look at your accomplishment,” she says. “Look at your experience and tell yourself how you’re going to look into the future with this—tell yourself, ‘This is such a good day, and I know I’ll look back with good memories.’”

trigger – routine – reward

Standard

Yes you can break that cake habit: Can’t survive the day without a sweet treat? A new book says kicking bad habits is easier than you think

By JANE MULKERRINS

PUBLISHED: 21:31 GMT, 8 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:31 GMT, 8 April 2012

Most of the choices we make each day — from the way we tie our shoes and brush our teeth, to the route we take to work and the coffee we buy when we arrive there — may feel like the products of well-considered decision-making but, in reality, they are habits.

In fact, research has shown that more than 40 per cent of the daily actions we perform aren’t conscious decisions.

And even though each habit means little on its own, over time the snacks we eat, whether we smoke, drink, exercise, spend or save, as well as our work routines have a huge impact on our productivity, financial security, health and happiness.

Food for thought: Research has shown that more than 40 per cent of the daily actions we perform aren¿t conscious decisions and are purely out of habitFood for thought: Research has shown that more than 40 per cent of the daily actions we perform aren¿t conscious decisions and are purely out of habit

But while most of the time we know if we’ve developed a bad habit, it can prove almost impossible to break. No matter how many times you say you’ll give up smoking tomorrow or even just skip that afternoon chocolate bar, when it comes to the crunch, good intentions fly out of the window.

However, it doesn’t need to be like that, says investigative reporter Charles Duhigg. His new book The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do And How To Change promises to be the key to help us break our bad behaviour patterns.

Duhigg uses the example of a 34-year-old woman called Lisa Allen, who had been smoking and drinking since she was 16 and had struggled with obesity for most of her life. In her 20s, she’d amassed £7,500 in debts and her longest job had lasted less than a year.

Charles Duhigg's new book promises to be the key to help us break our bad behaviour patternsCharles Duhigg’s new book promises to be the key to help us break our bad behaviour patterns

Three years later, however, she’d given up cigarettes and alcohol, lost more than 4st and run a marathon. She’d also begun a masters degree and bought a home. So, how had she managed to change her life in such a short space of time? Incredibly, reveals Duhigg, it all began with her deciding to drop just one of her bad habits — smoking.

Lisa’s marriage had broken down and, after much wallowing, she booked a flight to Cairo, a city she’d always wanted to visit. While in Egypt, she decided she wanted to go trekking, but was seriously out of shape. So Lisa vowed to give herself a year to prepare — a year in which she would need to give up smoking to be healthier.

Over the next six months, Lisa replaced smoking with jogging. In turn, this simple change altered how she ate, work and slept. That small decision in Cairo — the conviction that she had to give up smoking to accomplish her goal — had sparked off a series of changes that radiated to other parts of her life.

When scientists studied her brain in a series of scans, they found something remarkable. One set of neurological patterns — her old habits — was being overridden by new patterns. The researchers could still see the neural activity of her old behaviours, but those impulses were being pushed out by the new urges. As Lisa’s habits were changing, so was the physiology of her brain. Lisa’s scans showed she hadn’t lost the urge to overeat. When her eyes saw food, the areas in the brain that control cravings and hunger still responded. But over the year, activity in the area where self-discipline starts had become more active. All of which means that, like Lisa, it is possible for us to learn how to banish bad habits.

HOW HABITS ARE FORMED

They emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort, say scientists. Our brain converts sequences of actions into automatic routines, known as ‘chunking’. This process is at the root of how habits form. We rely on dozens, if not hundreds, of behavioural chunks every day. Some are simple: squeezing toothpaste on to a brush before putting it into your mouth. Others, such as making lunch, are a little more complex.

THE THREE-STEP LOOP

Habits are created by a three-step process or ‘loop’. First comes a trigger that cues the brain to go into automatic mode to choose which habit to use — anything from a smell, a place, a time of day, an emotion, or the company of certain people can start it off.

Next comes the routine. It can be something physical, mental or emotional, and range from an extremely simple action to something complex, from eating, drinking or smoking to putting on the kettle. Finally, there comes a reward that helps the brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. This could be the feeling that alcohol, food or nicotine induces, or an emotional pay-off, such as a sense of pride or achievement.

Over time, this loop — cue-routine-reward — becomes increasingly automatic, and the cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation emerges. Just the sight of cigarettes, for example, is enough for the brain to crave a nicotine rush. If it doesn’t arrive, the craving grows, until the smoker reaches, unthinkingly, for a cigarette.

HOW TO BREAK FREE – FOR EVER!

  • Identify the routine: Say you have an afternoon biscuit habit you’d like to break. The routine involves getting up, walking from your desk to the canteen, buying a biscuit and eating it while chatting to colleagues.
  • Experiment with rewards: What’s the reward for your biscuit habit? Is it really about hunger or low blood sugar levels? More likely is that you’re seeking a temporary distraction or an urge for human contact. Try out new ways to get those rewards — buy an apple instead or have a coffee. Instead of going to the canteen, talk to a friend at their desk. Fifteen minutes later, ask yourself if you’re still craving a biscuit.
  • Isolate the cue: When you get the craving to eat biscuits, where are you, what time is it, who is around you and what preceded the urge?
  • Have a plan: Having identified the urge, isolated the cue and worked on a new reward, you have figured out the habit loop. Now replace eating a biscuit with another action. If you repeat new routines for long enough, in time they will become the habit.

GOOD AND BAD HABITS ARE EQUAL

Habits never really disappear — they are encoded into the structures of our brain. Once we develop a habit of opening a bottle of wine when the children go to bed or snacking on biscuits mid-afternoon, those patterns always remain inside our heads. So far as the brain is concerned, it doesn’t matter if these habits are good for us or bad. In fact, it can’t tell the difference. All that matters is that a loop of behaviour has been formed that brings a reliable reward.

By the same rule, however, if we learn to create new neurological routines to replace unhelpful behaviours — if we take control of the habit loop — we can force those bad tendencies into the background, just as Lisa Allen did after her trip to Cairo.Once someone replaces a bad pattern with a good pattern, studies show the healthy habit — be it drinking tea instead of wine or rejecting the biscuits — can become as automatic as any other habit.

HABITS ARE POWERFUL BUT DELICATE

Studies indicate that families don’t intend to eat fast food on a regular basis. But driving home after a long day when the children are starving, it’s tempting to stop at McDonald’s or Burger King ‘just this once’. But what happens is that this behaviour slowly becomes once a week, then twice a week — until a family is consuming an unhealthy amount of fast food.

When researchers tried to understand families’ behaviour, they found a series of cues and rewards. Every branch of McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same — it deliberately tries to standardise the architecture and what employees say to customers so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines. Even these powerful habits are delicate, though. When a fast food restaurant closes down, disrupting the habit loops of its customers, families that previously ate there will often start having dinner at home.

CREATING A NEW CRAVING

If you want to develop a new, positive habit, perhaps running each morning, it’s essential you choose a simple cue — such as leaving your trainers and running clothes next to the bed the night before. You also need a clear reward — perhaps charting how far you have run or luxuriating in the shower as the neurochemicals released by exercise flood your body with wellbeing. But studies have also shown that cues and rewards on their own aren’t enough for new habits to last.

Only when your brain starts expecting the reward — craving the endorphins or the sense of accomplishment — will it become a habit to lace up your trainers each morning. In other words, as well as triggering a routine, the cue must also create an expectation of a reward.

To kick-start the process, you can bolt on an even more attractive reward: a small piece of chocolate or a big breakfast when you finish your run. Extra food might seem a counterproductive reward for exercise if your aim is to lose weight. But the goal here is to train your brain to associate a cue (running gear by the bed) with a routine (going out for a run) and a reward (chocolate!). In time — maybe weeks, maybe months — your brain will so closely associate exercise with a sense of reward that you won’t need the chocolate; it will just focus on the feelgood neurochemicals released by exercise.

LEARNING A NEW LOOP

We can learn new habits but we can never truly extinguish the old ones. To change a habit, you must strive to replicate the good feelings you get from bad patterns by swapping the bad pattern with a good one. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous asks alcoholics to identify the rewards they get from drinking — it’s often escape, relaxation, companionship, the blunting of anxieties and emotional release. The physical effects of drinking are usually far down the list.

In order to offer alcoholics the same rewards they get at a pub, AA builds a series of meetings and companionship to offer as much escape, distraction and catharsis as a night out drinking would. It creates new patterns for what to do each night instead of hitting the bottle, inserting new routines into old habit loops.

So, if you want to stop eating biscuits in the afternoon, identify your cue and your reward. Is the reward you are seeking to satisfy hunger? Or is it actually to alleviate boredom? If the latter, you can easily find another routine, such as taking a quick walk or seeking out a colleague for a chat.
Change can happen. Alcoholics can stop drinking, smokers can stop puffing, you can stop biting your nails or eating biscuits every afternoon. But there’s one more vital ingredient in changing a habit — belief. For habits to permanently change, we must believe that long-term change is possible. Start believing today!

The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg (William Heinemann, £12.99). To order a copy for £10.99 (including p&p), tel: 0843 382 0000.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2126924/Yes-break-cake-habit-Can-t-survive-day-sweet-treat-A-new-book-says-kicking-bad-habits-easier-think.html#ixzz1rXCRCdkE

how food can help decrease your stress levels

Standard

the way your body deals with stress could provide the clues that can help you become calmer and slimmer, explains nutritional therapist and TV diet expert Charlotte Watts, who has written a ground-breaking book on the issue.

Beat the bulge: Understanding your stress type will help you lose weightBeat the bulge: Understanding your stress type will help you lose weight

Perhaps you are someone who collapses in a tearful heap. Or maybe you fret over endless lists, while others go down with every passing cough and cold.

Not only does feeling stressed and tired cause us to look for an instant energy fix (often found in high-calorie or high carbohydrate foods) but it also makes any excess weight we are carrying harder to lose.

 

 

Excess stress hormones in the body encourage fat storage, especially that hard-to-shift type around the middle.

Most diets are doomed to fail if you are stressed. But eating and lifestyle changes can tackle how you react to stress, according to the new book The De-stress Diet.

Take the quiz below to pinpoint your stress type. If you answer yes to three or more questions in any section, that could be your problem. Just follow the expert advice for a slimmer, calmer, healthier 2012.

BLOATED AND STRESSED

  • Do you often feel bloated after eating?
  • Do you have irritable bowel syndrome-type symptoms that get worse when you are stressed?
  • Do you have food sensitivities?
  • Have you been on long-term steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/ or antibiotics?
  • Are you prone to headaches?
  • Is your diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates?

If this is your stress type, many of your problems are caused by insufficient beneficial bacteria in your gut, triggering sugar cravings and digestive problems such as IBS and weight gain.

WHAT TO DO: Increase your intake of natural prebiotics, which help promote good bacteria. They are found in veg (particularly Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, bananas, garlic, onions and leeks) or use supplements. Take digestive enzyme capsules at the start of each meal (around £9 for 100 from health stores) to help your body break down food.

Chew everything properly and wait an hour after eating protein before having fruit as it can cause gut fermentation and gas.

Cut down on sugars, alcohol and caffeine, which can reduce levels of beneficial bacteria and lead to gas, poor immunity and yeast overgrowth (candida).

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly to give your digestion the best chance to work effectively. Get tested for food intolerances (dairy, eggs, fish and grains) as low levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut can make it over-sensitive.

WIRED AND STRESSED

  • Do you feel on constant alert?
  • Do you react quickly to stressful events?
  • Do you struggle to relax?
  • Do you feel under pressure to take charge of things?
  • Do you feel increasingly unable to cope?
  • Are you prone to mood swings or have a tendency towards irritability?

This is one of the most common stress types, and is particularly harmful in the long term because it wears out our physical and mental systems. The adrenal glands (which control many stress hormones) are on  overload, triggering raised appetite and food cravings.

WHAT TO DO: Make sure you are getting all your nutrients by eating protein with every meal (eggs, meat or fish), healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.

Consider taking supplements containing zinc, iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, iodine and magnesium, commonly lost from the body during the stress response.

Nutrients needed: Eating more fruit and veg will help those who are wired and stressedNutrients needed: Eating more fruit and veg will help those who are wired and stressed

Don’t ignore tiredness: unwind in the evenings and try a few minutes of slow breathing each morning or before bed. Slow down your exercise regime. Avoid anything competitive so there is no stressful need to achieve.

COLD AND STRESSED

  • Do you often complain of feeling cold when others are warm?
  • Do you have poor circulation and are prone to fluid retention?
  • Is your hair thinning and are you losing the edges of your eyebrows?
  • Do you often find it difficult to concentrate?
  • Do you have less and less energy?
  • Do you have a hoarse voice?
  • Do you wake up unrefreshed?

These symptoms are often signs that stress is causing your thyroid gland (which controls metabolism) to under-perform. It’s your body’s way of slowing you down to conserve energy. This makes weight loss harder than ever.

WHAT TO DO: Balance your blood sugar levels to keep energy constant by eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates, and eating protein and good fats with each meal. Cut back on alcohol and coffee. Don’t skimp on exercise — it stimulates sluggish thyroid glands.

Try yoga. Head-down poses encourage blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the thyroid gland.

Stretch: Head down yoga positions encourage blood flowStretch: Head down yoga positions encourage blood flow

Protein and leafy greens contain an amino acid called tyrosine, which helps the thyroid produce thyroxine which re-invigorates the metabolism.

Avoid raw cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale as they can interfere with thyroid function.

Eat warming foods such as chilli, ginger, green tea, turmeric, cider vinegar, horseradish and wasabi to warm you up.

Consider taking the thyroid- stimulating nutrients iron, zinc, copper, selenium and iodine (found in mackerel, cod, shellfish and seaweeds).

ILL AND STRESSED

  • Are you prone to hay fever, asthma, eczema, arthritis or psoriasis?
  • Do you get frequent ear, nose and throat infections?
  • Do you have a tendency to fluid retention and weight fluctuations?
  • Are you prone to headaches?
  • Have you been on long-term steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/or antibiotics?
  • Is your diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates?
  • Do you have osteoporosis, heart disease or joint problems?

These symptoms could be  signs that your immune system is on overdrive. This saps energy,  and suppresses the appetite- satisfaction hormones ghrelin and leptin, making weight loss particularly difficult.

WHAT TO DO: Reduce your intake of sugar to cut down the harmful inflammatory reactions it may be causing in your body.

Boost your intake of foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta- carotene (found in fresh, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables), as well as the beneficial bioflavonoids and polyphenols found in spices, tea, green tea and garlic (as well as red wine and dark chocolate).

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to ensure you don’t get dehydrated (because they contain potassium and sugars, they  help the water they contain enter cells more easily than just drink-ing water).

Low levels of omega 3 in the diet can lead to inflammation, making eczema, asthma, dermatitis, hay fever, migraines and arthritis worse — stress exacerbates the effect. An omega 3 supplement may help.

Weight training is a must to strengthen bones and maintain healthy joint lubrication. Avoid hard cardiovascular workouts  and choose gentle jogging or walking instead.

HORMONAL AND STRESSED

  • Do you get PMS or have a history of menstrual problems?
  • Do you have fibroids, endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
  • Do you get pre-menstrual or ovulation sugar cravings?
  • Do you get hormonal phases of irritability, crying and/or negative thoughts?
  • Do you have menopausal symptoms?
  • Do you have fertility issues?
  • Have you used hormonal contraception (the Pill, IUD or implant) for years?

Affecting women only, this body type thrives on stress hormones interacting with oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, skewing the delicate balance your hormonal system needs to function well and leading to weight gain typically on the bottom, hips and thighs.

WHAT TO DO: Reduce your alcohol consumption as it can raise circulating oestrogen and may worsen PMS.

Organic meat, eggs and dairy products tend to be lower in growth hormones, which may disrupt your hormone balance.

Eat a little fermented soy in the form of soy sauce, tamari, miso  and tempeh — the Chinese and Japanese have found this can  help regulate the balance of  female hormones.

Eat plenty of fibre to ensure effective elimination of excess hormones via the bowel (constipation may cause hormones  and toxins to be re-absorbed into the body).

Exercise every day — it is a crucial physical process that increases hormone balance by boosting circulation and detoxification.

TIRED AND STRESSED

  • Do you wake up feeling weary?
  • Do you have energy dips?
  • Do you rely on sugar or caffeine to perk you up?
  • Do you feel fuzzy-headed?
  • Are you exhausted by evening?
  • Do you sleep badly?
  • Do you get fluid retention?

If you’ve been a ‘wired’ stress type for a while, you can easily become a tired type, which can result in crashes that leave you unable to function without unhealthy sugar or stimulants.

Energy boost: Tired and stressed people should eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercressEnergy boost: Tired and stressed people should eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercress

WHAT TO DO: Swap external energy fixes such as sugar, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes for a multivitamin and mineral supplement to boost iron, B and C vitamins and magnesium.

Eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercress (all rich in
iron) and poultry, milk, tofu and mushrooms (for vitamin B12).

Get more fluid by increasing fruit and veg intake and exercise to
reduce stress hormones.

DEMOTIVATED AND STRESSED

  • Do you often feel as if you can’t be bothered to do anything?
  • Do you have a tendency to depression?
  • Do you use sugar and refined carbohydrates for comfort?
  • Do you have late-night binges or over-eating sessions?
  • Do you sleep badly?
  • Are you prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Don’t blame lack of willpower — stress has depleted the feelgood hormones serotonin and dopamine.

Low levels are linked to depression, and make you susceptible to junk food cravings as your body searches for a quick fix boost.

WHAT TO DO: Take an Omega-3 supplement to increase receptiveness
to serotonin and dopamine. Eat protein with every meal to ensure a consistent supply of energy to the brain to maintain a healthy mood.

Replenish probiotic gut bacteria with bio-yogurt and cut back on sugar. Take a magnesium supplement. Exercise outdoors. Laugh, listen to music, socialise, have sex: natural opioids are produced in response to these natural highs.

Extracted from The De-stress Diet by Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee, published by Hay House on January 7 at £12.99. © Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee 2012. To order a copy for £10 (P&P free), tel: 0843 382 0000.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2081112/Foods-fight-stress-Changing-diet-overcome-anxiety-step-successful-weight-loss.html#ixzz1iT0e2adh

self control urge surfing

Standard

In my new book The Willpower Instinct, I describe one of my favorite studies of self-control. I call it the “torture experiment.” It reveals how mindfulness can help us break free from even the most difficult habits.

Sarah Bowen, a research scientist in the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, invited smokers who wanted to quit to participate in a study. Each brought an unopened pack of their favorite brand of cigarettes. When the smokers were all there, Bowen seated them around a long table. Then the torture began.

“Take out your pack and look at it,” Bowen instructed. They did. “Now remove the cellophane,” she commanded. “Now open the pack.” She walked the smokers through each step, from breathing in the first smell of the opened pack to pulling out a cigarette, holding it, looking at it, and smelling it. Putting it in their mouth. Taking out a lighter. Bringing the lighter to the cigarette without igniting it. At each step, she forced participants to stop and wait for several minutes.

Bowen wasn’t enjoying the smokers’ agony; her real aim was to investigate whether mindfulness can help smokers resist cravings.

Before the torture test, half of the smokers had received a brief training in a technique called “surfing the urge.” [Click here to listen to Bowen talk about the technique.] Bowen explained to the smokers that urges always pass eventually, whether or not you give in to them. When they felt a strong craving, they should imagine the urge as a wave in the ocean. It would build in intensity, but ultimately crash and dissolve. The smokers were to picture themselves riding the wave, not fighting it but also not giving in to it. They were instructed to pay close attention to the urge to smoke, without trying to change it or get rid of it. What thoughts were going through their mind? What did the urge feel like in the body?

An hour and a half later, after being fully put through the wringer, all of the smokers were released from Bowen’s torture chamber. She didn’t ask them to cut back on cigarettes, and she didn’t even encourage them to use the surfing-the-urge technique in everyday life. But Bowen did give ask them to keep track of how many cigarettes they smoked each day for the following week, along with their daily mood and urges to smoke.

For the first 24 hours, there was no difference in number of cigarettes smoked by the two groups. But starting with the second day, the surfing-the-urge group smoked fewer cigarettes. By day seven, the control group showed no change, but those surfing the urge had cut back 37 percent. Surprisingly, for smokers who had learned to surf the urge, stress no longer automatically led to lighting up.

A new study sheds some light on what’s happening in the brain when we apply mindfulness to tempation. This study recruited 47 smokers who wanted to quit, and asked them to abstain from smoking for 12 hours before the experiment. The researchers taught the participants basic principles of mindful attention—like in Bowen’s study, it was a very quick and simple “intervention,” no formal meditation training required.

The researchers then showed the smokers smoking-related images designed to induce cravings. For some images, the smokers were asked to view them passively, without any special mindfulness to their experience; for other images, they were asked to view them mindfully. They also asked smokers to report any cravings they were experiencing. All the while, the researchers were watching what was happening in each smoker’s, tracking brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance imagine machine.

First, the self-report: mindfulness reduced cravings. It’s counter-intuitive, because research has conclusively shown that images trigger strong cravings in smokers. But mindfulness seems to provide some kind of inoculation to the images.

The reduced cravings correlated with reduced activity in craving-related areas of the brain (e.g. the anterior cingulate cortex). Interestingly, mindfulness didn’t just reduce activity; it functionally disconnected the different regions of the brain that make up the “craving network.”

The experience of a strong craving is the product of several brain areas co-activating: regions that make you make you focus on the object of the craving; regions that create the mixed feelings of desire (anticipating the pleasure of reward, while also experiencing the pain and stress of not yet having what you want), and regions that motivate action to get what you want.

Paying mindful attention to the trigger of the craving interrupted this complex brain response, and ultimately protected smokers from their own desire.

It’s likely that this process can help all sorts of temptation and addiction, from food cravings to shopping addiction, substance abuse, and Internet porn. Want to get started? Researcher (aka torturer of smokers) Sarah Bowen leads you through the practice of surfing the urge (click to stream audio, or right-click/control-click and “save file as” to download MP3).


Kelly McGonigal is a psychologist at Stanford University. Her latest book, which is full of strategies for mindful and self-compassionate change, is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It.

Studies referenced:

1. Bowen S, Marlatt A (2009). Surfing the urge: brief mindfulness-based intervention for college student smokers. Psychol Addict Behav, 23(4):666-71.
2. Westbrook C, Creswell JD, Tabibnia G, Julson E, Kober H, Tindle HA (2011). Mindful attention reduces neural and self-reporte