What your cravings are trying to tell you

Standard

We all get food cravings from time to time, but if you’re fighting off cravings on a daily basis, you need to arm yourself with the right foods! Nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos is here to tell us what constant cravings mean!

IF YOU ARE CRAVING SUGAR…

72_sugar.jpg

REASON: Sugar cravings can be caused by:

  • Blood sugar imbalances and Insulin resistance
  • Candida – yeast overgrowth in the intestinal system

EAT THIS INSTEAD: PROTEIN!

  • Lean protein, such as chicken, fish, and eggs, helps to balance blood sugar levels. Protein acts as a blood-sugar stabalizer by slowing down the rate at which sugar is absorbed in your blood stream.
  • Chicken is rich in chromium which is a mineral that helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduce carb cravings. Chromium is a mineral essential in regulating the body’s response to insulin. (You can also take a chromium supplement.)
  • Sweet spices: Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar and insulin levels. Studies show that cinnamon improves the body’s ability to utilize the insulin it already produces by enhancing muscle and liver cells’ response to insulin.
  • Probiotics – Candida is a yeast overgrowth in the intestinal system that feeds off of sugar.  Probiotics help to replace the “bad” yeast colonies with good, benefitial bacteria and help to overcome yeast overgrowth.
  • Peu d’arco Tea helps to overcome yeast overgrowth by assisting in the treatment of fungal infections.

IF YOU ARE CRAVING CARBOHYDRATES…

72_carbs.jpg

REASON: Carb cravings mean low levels of serotonin (in addition to blood sugar balances as noted above).  Serotonin is our “feel good” neurotransmitter. If we are feeling down and depressed our serotonin levels may be too low. Carbs actually increase serotonin levels making us feel good “temporarily,” without necessarily dealing with the issue at hand. And in the end, they leave us feeling more bloated, fat and depressed.

EAT THIS INSTEAD: 

Choose foods rich in tryptophan, such as sacha inchi seeds, turkey, or wholegrains like quinoa. Tryptophan is a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Complex carbohydrates, such as quinoa, oats or sweet potatoes, increase the absorption of tryptophan stimulating serotonin production. However, complex carbs/wholegrains are also richer in protein and nutrients than refined carbs; they keep us fuller longer and curb cravings.

Sacha Inchi seeds:

  • Sacha inchi seeds are one of the highest sources of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino responsible for the production of serotonin.
  • Sacha inchi seeds contain the highest plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to alleviate depression .

*Turkey is also high in tryptophan

Complex Carbs – Quinoa
Carbohydrates increase the rate at which tryptophan enters the brain. These complex carbohydrates are also high in tryptophan, promoting the calming effects of serotonin production. Eating carbohydrates with tryptophan-containing foods makes this calming amino acid more available to the brain. Quinoa is also rich in B-vitamins, essential for mental health.

ARE YOU CONSTANTLY CRAVING CHOCOLATE?

72_choco.jpg

Research suggests that up to 97% of women and 68% of men experience food cravings. Chocolate is the most common one of the craved foods. Almost 50% of women reportedly claim to prefer chocolate to sex!

REASON: What you body could really be craving is Magnesium, B6, or B12. Chocolate releases endorphins, which suppress pain triggers, and give us a euphoric feeling. Magnesium also helps to relax nerves and tension that alleviate pain triggers.

HAVE THIS INSTEAD: 

  • Raw cacao nibs – raw chocolate is the highest source of magnesium!
  • Blue-green algae (E3 Live) contains 50 times more PEA than chocolate, giving you that “happy love bug” feeling!
  • Go for a run, exercise, have sex!  These activities release the same endorphins, and not only are they calorie-free, but will actually help BURN calories! And they don’t cost a cent!

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THOSE SALTY FOODS?

72_salt.jpg

REASON: STRESS! 
Many times, if we are over-stressed or anxious over long periods of time, we can exhaust our adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands, located on top of our kidneys, are responsible for distributing several hormones through our body, including cortisol (which is our stress response hormone) and aldosterone, which regulates sodium levels. When our adrenals are compromised due to stress, it causes our body to search for essential nutrients and minerals to compensate. In addition, our adrenals may produce less aldosterone, which results in an excessive loss of sodium through the kidneys, and we begin to crave salt.

HAVE THIS INSTEAD:  

  • B-vitamins: B-vitamins are essential for mental health and serve many functions in the brain and nervous system. B-vitamin help your body respond and adapt to stress. In particular, B5 helps the body adapt to stress and supports the adrenal gland function. B6 is useful in correcting elevated cortisol levels. Because B-vitamins are water-soluble, they pass through your body quickly, so we want to make sure we replenish them regularly.
  • Natural sea salt: natural sea salts are unrefined (unlike table salt) and still retain the minerals your body needs to function optimally.
  • Passion Flower is a calming herb that helps to improve the activity of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps you relax.
  • Relora: relora is an herbal supplement that is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. It works to reduce cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and raise DHEA (coined the “anti-aging hormone”) which helps to control stress, maintain proper mineral balance, and can help increase lean mass and reduce body fat.

DO YOU  HAVE AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST?

If you find yourself ALWAYS thirsty no matter how much you’re drinking, you may be washing away precious electrolytes and your body may be lacking the minerals needed to absorb fluids.

TRY THIS INSTEAD:  

  • Coconut water – naturally loaded in electrolytes to help quench your thirst and restore precious minerals. Also makes a great hangover remedy!  (It solves the dehydration issue that causes nausea and headache!)
  • Emergen-C Electro mix – this is a powder that contains all your electrolytes. Just mix with water and you have an instant sports drink!
Advertisements

unhappy making actions

Standard

10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier.

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/28145073@N08/7356884872

We tend to be unconscious of behaviors that are causing pain and unnecessary suffering in our lives.

If we could just become more conscious of behaviors that are leading to the pain in our lives, we would be a lot happier. Today we can start giving up some of the things in our life that are causing this conflict.

1. Stop complaining

Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.
~ Henry Ford

Nobody wants to be around someone who complains all the time. Yet we all do it. Instead of finding a reason to complain, look for the solution if your facing a problem. Look for something positive in your life. There’s always something positive to find in our life if we shift our focus.

2. Stop Judging

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
~ Paulo Coelho

Stop judging other peoples lives and focus on perfecting your own life. We spend so much time gossiping rather than working on perfecting ourselves. Focus on your own life, and how your going to perfect it.

 3. Stop avoiding your fear.

Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
~ Rumi

Fear is an obnoxious thing—it slows you down from finding a career you love, a romantic relationship, and pursing your dreams. Do something that makes you uncomfortable every day, in small steps, and it will dramatically alter the course of your life.

4. Stop being so hard on yourself

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
~ African Proverb

The biggest enemy that you face is the one inside you—this enemy criticizes, condemns, and complains. Don’t let these unconscious patterns run your life.

Come to terms with these patterns, the biggest enemy you ever have to face in the one inside of you.

5. Stop being negative

Misery loves company.
~ Anonymous

If you focus on being negative it’s going to show up everywhere in your life. It will show up in your work, relations and everything else. Shift your focus away from being so negative all the time. Find things that make you come alive!

6. Stop caring about what other people think of you

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
~ Lao Tzu

Every great artist, musician, political leader, ignored what people thought of them. Other people’s opinions of you, are none of your business. What people think of you should not drown out your own inner voice and inspirations.

7. Stop worrying about the small stuff

When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
~ Winston Churchil

Think about all the unnecessary worries that go through your mind all day. We worry about why someone is not returning our emails, texts, phone calls. We worry about everything and everything.

Focus on what you can do at the present moment and not about how you can worry about the outcome.

8. Stop needing to be right all the time

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas. It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
~ Edward De Bono

Stop needing to be right all the time, this can lead to so many unnecessary arguments. Instead of needing to be right, start working on being more open to other peoples opinion’s. Start asking more questions and become more interested in other people’s points of view. It may open a whole new dimension of life.

9. Stop blaming others

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
~ George Bernard Shaw

We constantly blame everyone for all types of different things. Quit blaming other people for your circumstances. If you want to change something go out and do it! Don’t blame someone for your present day situations.

10. Stop living in the past or the future

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
~ Henry David Thoreau

So much of our attention is on past experiences or on how we will be in the future. Focus your mind on the present moment. We would be so much happier if we placed our attention on the present.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

Like elephant spirituality on facebook

From Robert Piper http://monkinthecity.com/

diet myths debunked

Standard

Everything you think you know about healthy eating is wrong!

By MARIA LALLY

PUBLISHED: 21:10 GMT, 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 08:19 GMT, 25 June 2012

Low-fat salad dressing is better than mayonnaise, fat makes you fat and you can’t eat enough fruit, right? Wrong, according to the latest research.

‘When a new client comes to see me, they nearly always reel off the list of “good” things they’re doing diet-wise,’ says James Duigan, author of Clean & Lean, and personal trainer to the stars, including Elle Macpherson.

‘Each time, I shake my head and tell them these so-called “good” diet traits are sabotaging their efforts to slim.’

So if you’re trying to eat well, here’s everything you need to know (but probably didn’t)…

You should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with themYou should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them

Myth: Low-fat salad dressing is good for you

Drizzling a fat-free dressing over your salad isn’t as healthy as it seems, or so says a study.

Scientists found that eating your salad alongside a little fat helps your body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables more efficiently.

‘Certain foods become healthier when eaten together,’ says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.

‘Many vegetables are fat-soluble, which means your body absorbs their nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them.’

In fact, trainer James argues you should never have a fat-free salad. ‘The more nutrients your body absorbs, the less hungry it feels, plus you’ll get fewer sugar cravings. Adding a little goat’s cheese, olive oil, avocado or nuts to your salad will make you healthier and slimmer.’

Myth: Skimmed milk is healthier

Studies show the health-boosting vitamins in full-fat milk — including vitamins A, D, E and K — are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them more efficiently when taken with fat. ‘It’s also worth remembering that full-fat milk isn’t even that high in fat,’ says James Duigan.

‘It only contains around four per cent of fat compared with, say, cream, which is almost 50 per cent.’

Cocoa a go-go!

Dark chocolate relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart

So unless you’re drinking pints of milk every day, you’re better off sticking to full-fat milk. Vitamins A, D, E and K have been shown to keep teeth and bones healthy, and boost your immunity.

A study from Cardiff University found full-fat milk can help keep your metabolism fired up and your risk of heart disease down.

Myth: Margarine is better than butter

For years we’ve been buying margarine for its butter-like taste but with less fat and calories. Have we been wasting our time?

‘Margarine is highly processed and contains hydrogenated fats which the body can’t break down through the digestive tract and liver,’ says Vicki.

‘These types of fats are stored in the fat cells of our body, interfering with the way in which we hold on to or lose fat. Butter, on the other hand, is a natural product with barely any additives.’

‘Butter contains a natural fatty acid called CLA, which studies show helps reduce your risk of heart disease if you have a small amount each day,’ adds James.

‘CLA also enhances the flavour of your food and satisfies your appetite in a way that a bland processed spread never will.’

Myth: Only sweets contain sugar

Hold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fatHold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fat

‘Many women know the fat content of everything, especially if they’ve struggled with their weight,’ says James. ‘What they don’t know is the sugar content of foods.’

And, according to James, this is where the problem lies. ‘Traditionally, sugar is seen as a harmless treat, whereas fat is seen as the enemy,’ he says. ‘Our consumption of sugar has risen dramatically because as well as the obvious culprits, it’s also found in many everyday foods including yoghurts, pasta sauces and even bread.

‘Sugar is more fattening. For a start, fat really fills you up. If you eat a bowl of creamy pasta or a fry-up, you’ll become very full. Whereas you can keep eating sugar — in the form of sweets, fizzy drinks and biscuits — and never feel properly full, so it’s easy to overeat.’

Sugar is bad news for our health, too. A study from Harvard University in the U.S. found that drinking a sugary drink every day increases your risk of heart disease. Another study found a high sugar diet is linked to heart disease.

‘Sugar makes you fat because it’s the most refined form of carbohydrate,’ says Vicki. ‘It rapidly raises blood sugar levels, which affects insulin production and the rate at which the body lays down extra fat.’

Myth: Count calories to lose weight

‘Technically calories do count when it comes to keeping slim,’ says James. ‘The calories you put in (what you eat) versus calories out (how much you move around) determine weight loss or gain. However, in reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Take, for example, salmon and avocado.’

Both foods are high in fat (the good, heart-healthy kind) and calories. An avocado contains 275 calories and a salmon steak contains around 170 calories (compared with around 90 in a cod fillet).

‘But you’ll never get fat eating avocado and salmon,’ says James. ‘For a start, they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which as well as being heart-friendly, also help your body to burn fat more efficiently.

‘And a low-calorie diet doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy diet. Plenty of low-calorie diets are made up of nutritionally-deficient foods such as bland cereal and processed, tinned food.

‘This type of diet will leave you sluggish, unable to concentrate and craving sugar. In time, this can set up a binge/diet cycle that ruins your metabolism.’

James’s advice? ‘Just eat nutritious, wholesome foods that are as unprocessed as possible and forget about how many calories they contain.’

Myth: You can’t eat too much fruit

‘Lastly, most people assume the five-a-day message just applies to fruit, but try to eat more vegetables than fruit,’ says James.

‘Fruit is high in natural sugars, especially tropical varieties like bananas and mango and over-ripened fruit. Go for thin-skinned fruit — such as berries, pears and apples — because they contain more antioxidants.

Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day

‘And always eat it with a little fat (such as nuts) because this will slow down the speed at which the sugar hits your bloodstream. This will keep blood sugar levels steady — sugary foods raise them rapidly causing them to crash, which leads to tiredness and cravings for more sweet food.’

Vicki adds: ‘Many people are sensitive to fruits and fruit sugars and experience bloating, wind and abdominal pain after eating too much of them. I recommend people eat more vegetables than fruit, yet most of us do it the other way around.’

Find James Duigan’s Clean & Lean cookbook at his website www.bodyism.com

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2164071/Everything-think-know-healthy-eating-wrong.html#ixzz1yneqtjoS

diet that might beat breast cancer

Standard

A breast cancer patient refused to take powerful drugs she  was offered to stop the disease returning – and chose to depend on a spicy low-fat diet instead.

Following surgery, Vicky Sewart, 44, was worried about possible side-effects from taking the medication.

So instead, she launched herself into a health regime of exercise and specially chosen foods, including turmeric, which she claims ‘makes cancer cells commit suicide’.

Experts have warned there is little scientific evidence to back up her claims.

But Miss Sewart believes that the diet she followed after undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery was a vital part of her recovery from the disease.

Her experience will now form part of an academic study into how lifestyle can affect the body’s response to cancer.

After she was diagnosed, Miss Sewart did her own research into which foods might have a positive impact on her recovery.

And following an operation to remove a breast and lymph node four years ago, she told doctors she would not take Tamoxifen during remission but would be following her own ‘anti-cancer’ diet instead.

She said: ‘It’s very unusual for breast cancer patients not to take the drug.

‘When I told the doctors I didn’t want to take it, they just advised me to keep oestrogen out of my body, which is basically what the drug does.

 ‘The doctors absolutely will not say that the diet is going to do anything to help the cancer in any way, other than to say a healthy diet is going to help in the fight against any disease.
Recovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Ms Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spicesRecovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Miss Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spices

This was four years ago and I think attitudes are changing a bit now so that these ideas are running alongside the more usual treatments.

‘I believe absolutely enormously that my diet has assisted my recovery.’

Explaining her decision not to take Tamoxifen, she went on: ‘It was the worry  of the drugs and the side effects, I didn’t want to have to worry about it, I wanted  to be free.’

Turmeric, a spice used when making curry dishesTurmeric, a spice used when making curry dishes

The jewellery designer and gallery owner started her health regime with a mostly organic vegan diet, cutting out all dairy products, adding plenty of ‘super-foods’, and taking moderate exercise.

She said: ‘Fresh fruit, vegetables and juices are great, and frozen berries are fantastic as a super-food. Turmeric kind of makes cancer cells commit suicide and ginger and garlic are great to cook with.’ 

For the past four years, Miss Sewart has provided blood and urine samples and filled in regular questionnaires as part of national research into how lifestyle can help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer after surgery.

The largest study of its kind in the world, it involves 56 hospitals around the UK and 3,400 patients who have had the disease.

The full results will be published next year.

Meanwhile, Miss Sewart, from Plymouth, is hoping to mark her five-year remission next summer and is due to marry later this year.

Describing her experience of cancer, she added: ‘People can die, or come back from it and enjoy life.

‘You’ve just got to be thankful you’re still around.’

Strawberries is a superfood
Ms Sweart used ginger root in her diet

Vicky Sweart used both frozen berries like strawberries and ginger root in her diet which she claims has helped recovery from breast cancer

However, experts urged other cancer sufferers not to abandon conventional treatments.

Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It’s not recommended that alternative therapies are  used in place of conventional medical therapy.

‘There is little scientific or medical evidence to indicate that alternative therapies are more effective than the proven treatments used by cancer specialists on the NHS.

‘We would urge anyone to talk to their specialist if they’re contemplating them.’

Dr Steve Kelly, who specialises  in breast cancer at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, said: ‘Breast cancer deaths have been going down steadily for over 20 years thanks to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

‘But there are three things patients can do to help themselves. It doesn’t guarantee survival, but it does help.

‘The first is to exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week. The second is to not gain any weight, and the third is to reduce fat intake.

‘These things help to reduce the chance of cancer coming back. For this patient, four years on now, it is still early days.’

He added: ‘My job is not to make people have Tamoxifen, but advise people of the risks and benefits.

‘Treatment comes down to a patient, and height, weight and exercise levels are helpful in making a decision.’

Tamoxifen is Britain’s most widely-used breast cancer drug,  given to more than half of patients to stop tumours from returning after surgery.

The tablets, which cost as little as aspirin and are taken for up to five years, also prevent the development of new tumours in an unaffected breast.

The drug, originally developed as a contraceptive, is the gold standard treatment for breast cancer and has been given to millions around the world since the 1980s.

It works by blocking the female sex hormone oestrogen from fuelling the growth of tumours.

Used after surgery, it cuts the odds of the tumour returning by around 30 per cent. However, it does not work in all cases.

In contrast, the evidence for curry spices such as turmeric beating cancer mainly comes from the study of cells in a dish – while evidence from the treatment of actual patients is sparse.

In laboratory studies it seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing, particularly in breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancers.

It has also been shown to appear to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body in mice

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2164034/Vicky-Sewart-The-woman-says-beating-breast-cancer-thanks-low-fat-diet-including-curry-spices–claiming-make-cancer-cells-commit-suicide.html#ixzz1ynWlAJzn

mindfulness for healthy eating

Standard

Change your mind to change your figure: Fed up with failed diets? A new book says the key to weight-loss is learning to think differently about food

By LOUISE ATKINSON

PUBLISHED: 22:00 GMT, 17 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:01 GMT, 17 June 2012

Whether it’s cake, cheese, crisps or biscuits, women think about food more than 200 times a day.

From ‘I’ve been so good today I deserve a chocolate’ to ‘I’m miserable and only ice cream will make me feel better’, research shows it pops into our minds twice as often as sex does.

‘For many women, food is the first thing they think of in the morning and the effect that food has had on their bodies is the last thing they think of at night,’ says meditation expert Andy Puddicombe, author of a new book called The Headspace Diet, which claims to be able to change the way you think about food — and therefore help you lose weight — in just ten days.

According to research women think about food more than 200 times a dayAccording to research women think about food more than 200 times a day

Puddicombe believes this negative chatter, much of which is learned in childhood, developed through adolescence and reinforced in adulthood, lies at the heart of our warped relationship with food. It’s the reason we’re so often unhappy with our bodies, and why diets rarely work.

The key to changing the way we think about food lies in harnessing the power of meditation to make us more ‘mindful’. Puddicombe says we need to clear the brain of unhelpful, unhealthy messages, impulses and drives surrounding food and ‘re-set’ ourselves and our mentality.

Puddicombe’s methods are based on the concept of learning to ‘observe’ your thoughts and acknowledge them — but not act on them. Through simple exercises, he promises you can escape the tyranny of emotional cravings for food. In some cases, it’s as simple as taking a little time to think before you shop, cook and eat, or just counting to ten before putting something in your mouth.

Puddicombe says before you walk into a shop you should be clear about what you are going to buy to avoid making impulse purchasesPuddicombe says before you walk into a shop you should be clear about what you are going to buy to avoid making impulse purchases

To start with, we need to identify what type of food thinker we are. Only when we recognise and acknowledge our negative thought and related eating patterns can we begin to use mindfulness to overcome them. So what sort of food thinker are you?

THE NIBBLER

You snack, nibble and graze throughout the day — whether you’re hungry or not. You reject formal diet plans because you think your way of eating is better,  but never seem to lose weight.

THE PROBLEM: You’re constantly thinking about the next snack. You’re in danger of eating too much, too often.

THE SOLUTION: Stick to three meals a day plus two healthy snacks (such as fruit, carrot sticks or oat cakes with hummus), and eat nothing else in between.

THE GORGER

The Headspace Diet claims to be able to help you lose weight in just ten daysThe Headspace Diet claims to be able to help you lose weight in just ten days

though you are desperate to lose weight, you find yourself eating in a self-destructive way, consuming large volumes of junk food or ready meals. For you, diets never last  or work.

THE PROBLEM: This pattern is driven by emotional triggers — you gorge if you feel lonely, anxious or annoyed, but by giving in to it you’ll only perpetuate self-loathing.

THE SOLUTION: Exercise to boost your self-esteem and use mindfulness skills to train your brain to regard food as sustenance, not a reward.

THE DIET JUNKIE

Atkins, Dukan, cabbage soup — you try every new diet going. Not bothered by nutritional content, you view food (or the lack of it) as the only vehicle to weight loss so you’re constantly diet-hopping.

THE PROBLEM: The lack of nutrients in your diet puts your body in ‘protective mode’ holding on to every last ounce of fat, and leaving you feeling dissatisfied and guilty.

THE SOLUTION: Stop thinking extreme dieting will help you achieve physical perfection — it won’t. Switch to a balanced diet and smaller portions.

THE BINGER

You have steely willpower and follow strict diet rules, eating healthily 90 per cent of the time, but can swing from extreme control to a moment of madness with self-destructive high-sugar binges.

TAKE TIME TO TAKE A BREATHER

Take a breather

Calm your mind. Get into the habit of setting aside ten minutes every day for a short mind-clearing exercise: sit quietly and breathe deeply, concentrating on your breathing.

Let your mind scan your body for tension and your brain for mood — be aware of everything that comes up, but don’t make any judgments.

Focus on your breathing, allowing your mind to be free and clear. This is your treat, your chance to relax and unwind — and you’ll get better at it with practise.

With time, this has been shown to increase emotional stability (so you’re less likely to comfort eat), increase body awareness (so you’ll be quicker to notice when you’re full or not really hungry), reduce stress, cravings and boost the self-regulating and decision-making areas of the brain — making your new healthy-eating plan much more likely to work.

THE PROBLEM: Binges derail all your good intentions and can have an addictive effect. This style of eating comes with emotional baggage, often including strong feelings of guilt and shame.

THE SOLUTION: Relax your strict rules and allow yourself regular treats of ‘forbidden’ foods to stop the desire for massive binges.

THE ZOMBIE

You eat out of habit and routine, barely conscious of what goes in to your mouth. Your diet is likely to be monotonous.

THE PROBLEM: You’re likely to eat highly processed, refined foods that lack nutritional value, but give you a quick fix.

THE SOLUTION: Stop eating in front of the TV or at your desk and take the time to think about what you’re putting in your mouth. Eat good food and savour every mouthful.

THE COMFORT EATER

You eat for emotional reasons, using food to fill an emotional void and distract you from painful or difficult feelings. Food makes you feel better — but only for a while.

THE PROBLEM: You’re out of touch with your hunger signals. You deny yourself good, healthy balanced meals at the expense of processed —and calorific — foods.

THE SOLUTION: Mindfulness exercises (such as pausing for ten seconds before you eat anything to allow your mind to settle) will help you to ignore the brain chatter urging you to eat when you’re not really hungry.

NOW TRY THE CHOCOLATE MEDITATION

Switch off your phone, the radio or TV — this is your opportunity to get back in touch with the food you eat rather than feeling distracted, stressed or overwhelmed.

Concentrate on the textures, smells and even the sounds as you chop, boil and sizzle. Sit at a table, take a couple of deep breaths and appreciate the food you are eating.

Curb temptations: Get back in touch with the food you eat and you might find one piece of chocolate is enoughCurb temptations: Get back in touch with the food you eat and you might find one piece of chocolate is enough

Eat slowly, chew every mouthful fully and make sure you take note of how your mind responds to the food. When you finish, instead of jumping up, stay seated for a minute or two. It’s important to do this even when you’re having a snack, so you can apply mindfulness to everything you put in your mouth.

When eating your favourite food, enjoy it with focus.If there’s a type of food (let’s say chocolate) that you really love, but struggle to eat in moderation, try this: sit quietly without distractions and think about the chocolate in front of you.

Notice how you’re feeling, pause, then slowly unwrap it and take a minute to explore it with your eyes, nose and hands and notice whether your emotions change. Put a small piece in your mouth — don’t chew! Notice the temperature and texture and savour it. This way you’ll derive more satisfaction from smaller quantities — and you may find that one piece is enough.

MAKE A LIST TO RESIST CRAVINGS

Clear your cupboards of anything that may conflict with your goals. Then write a list of healthy foods you enjoy. Before you walk into a shop, be clear you are going to buy only from the list — so no impulse purchases.

Every time you pick up something, ask yourself: ‘Is this going to help me achieve my ideal size, shape, and weight?’ If you get distracted by a craving, chose a neutral place of focus (your feet, your palms resting on the shopping trolley) and breathe deeply.

Before leaving the store, pause briefly and pat yourself on the back for making good food choices — this affirmation will seal the new neural pathways you have created  by making these different decisions.

THE HEADSPACE DIET: 10 Days To Finding Your Ideal Weight by Andy Puddicombe (Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99).

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2160660/Change-mind-change-figure.html#ixzz1y8Ti1Ail

kapha dosha weight loss

Standard

 

Weight Management: Kapha

The most common type of weight gain is caused by having a slow metabolism. This is common for a person who is a classic Kapha type. Kapha dosha is comprised of the earth and water elements, so this type of individual will reflect those qualities. A Kapha person will be structurally bigger, with bigger bones and a more easy-going, stable, gentle personality.

For a Kapha person, being skinny is usually not a healthy goal. If you are prone to gain weight, and are always five to ten pounds overweight no matter how little you eat, it would go against your nature to ever be really thin. Rather, it would be better to balance your metabolism, increase your ability to digest sugars and carbohydrates by adopting a Kapha balancing diet and lifestyle, and allow your body to naturally find its ideal weight. You may not be skinny, you may always weigh five to ten pounds more than average, but you will feel better and look healthier, and you will lose most of your excess weight.

Balancing Kapha Dosha through diet

The main principle for balancing Kapha is to introduce some of the fire element into your food and lifestyle. This will balance the earthen and watery elements of Kapha dosha.

Flavor your vegetables and dhal soups with spices that are mildly pungent, such as black pepper, fresh ginger, and turmeric

Other tastes to balance Kapha dosha are the bitter and astringent tastes. These include green leafy vegetables, split mung dhal soup and other bean soups, and astringent vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s important to cook your vegetables and eat them warm, rather than relying on raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest, whereas to balance Kapha dosha you want to eat warm, light, cooked foods.

Quinoa is an excellent grain for managing weight, as it has high protein and zinc content (4 mg of zinc per cup). But it should be cooked with a bit of ghee or olive oil, as otherwise it may be too drying.

Basmati rice is also a good grain for Kapha dosha, because it has a more drying quality than other types of rice, but quinoa is better because it has the intelligence of fire to support weight loss.

The fire element can even be added to the water you drink. If you boil your water for five minutes on the stove, you are adding the intelligence of fire to your drinking water. If you sip the water throughout the day, the intelligence of fire will permeate the molecules of water, and thus permeate your body. You won’t notice anything right away, but if you continue with this routine, in time you will feel less fatigue. This is because Kapha dosha tends to create a feeling of lethargy, and by introducing the fire element in the water, you’ll gradually feel more energetic.

If you are Kapha by nature, you’ll want to stay away from heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecake, as these will only slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha in your body. Rich desserts, fried foods, foods made with refined sugar and refined flour, cold foods and drinks – all of these should be avoided if you want to balance Kapha and your weight.

Lifestyle tips for balancing Kapha

Regular exercise is the most important change you can make to improve your metabolism. The problem is that people with excessive Kapha dosha often feel somewhat complacent or even lethargic, and they might have to push themselves a little to exercise every day. Usually Kapha types need more vigorous exercise for a longer period to have the same effect as milder exercise would have on a Vata person.

Even making a habit of breathing more deeply can help charge the metabolism with more of the fire element. When Kapha dosha is out of balance, one of the first things that happens is that the person becomes a shallow breather. Deeper breathing is healthy for all body types, but especially for Kapha dosha, because deeper breathing helps wake up the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism is lower and breathing is shallow, the body’s channels get blocked and cause even more lethargy, which becomes a vicious cycle.

Don’t try to force your breathing, but just easily make a habit of breathing more deeply. Pranayama is the yogic breathing exercise that prepares the mind and body for meditation. These gentle exercises cultivate deeper breathing and help cleanse the pathways of prana, or life breath, in the body, removing obstructions and enhancing metabolism.

People with more Kapha dosha need to be sure to eat their main meal when the sun is strongest, right at noon. This is because the body’s internal digestive fire, called agni, is also strongest at noon. If you eat your main meal then, you’ll digest it more easily and create less of the waste product of digestion, the toxic ama, which blocks the channels and slows metabolism.

The digestive fire is weaker in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before bed, so breakfast and dinner should be lighter meals. An excellent breakfast for balancing metabolism for all three body-types is a cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs. This breakfast choice is light and sustains most people until noon, when they can eat their heaviest meal. A healthy supper for a Kapha person might be soup made with vegetables, grains and dhal and flavored with spices such as cumin, fresh ginger, black pepper, and turmeric. Or kitcheri, a light meal made with rice and split mung dhal, is also a light Kapha-reducing meal Kapha Churna is an excellent spice mixture for balancing Kapha dosha.

how leaders kill meaning at work

Standard

Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.

JANUARY 2012 • Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

 

As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy. A multiyear research project whose results we described in our recent book, The Progress Principle,1 found that of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Even incremental steps forward—small wins—boost what we call “inner work life”: the constant flow of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that constitute a person’s reactions to the events of the work day. Beyond affecting the well-being of employees, inner work life affects the bottom line.2 People are more creative, productive, committed, and collegial in their jobs when they have positive inner work lives. But it’s not just any sort of progress in work that matters. The first, and fundamental, requirement is that the work be meaningful to the people doing it.

In our book and a recent Harvard Business Review article,3 we argue that managers at all levels routinely—and unwittingly—undermine the meaningfulness of work for their direct subordinates through everyday words and actions. These include dismissing the importance of subordinates’ work or ideas, destroying a sense of ownership by switching people off project teams before work is finalized, shifting goals so frequently that people despair that their work will ever see the light of day, and neglecting to keep subordinates up to date on changing priorities for customers.

But what about a company’s most senior leaders? What is their role in making—or killing—meaning at work? To be sure, as a high-level leader, you have fewer opportunities to directly affect the inner work lives of employees than do frontline supervisors. Yet your smallest actions pack a wallop because what you say and do is intensely observed by people down the line.4 A sense of purpose in the work, and consistent action to reinforce it, has to come from the top.

Four traps

To better understand the role of upper-level managers, we recently dug back into our data: nearly 12,000 daily electronic diaries from dozens of professionals working on important innovation projects at seven North American companies. We selected those entries in which diarists mentioned upper- or top-level managers—868 narratives in all.

Qualitative analysis of the narratives highlighted four traps that lie in wait for senior executives. Most of these pitfalls showed up in several companies. Six of the seven suffered from one or more of the traps, and in only a single company did leaders avoid them. The existence of this outlier suggests that it is possible for senior executives to sustain meaning consistently, but that’s difficult and requires vigilance.

This article should help you determine whether you risk falling into some of these traps yourself—and unknowingly dragging your organization into the abyss with you. We also offer a few thoughts on avoiding the problems, advice inspired by the actions and words of a senior leader at the one company that did so.

We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we are convinced that executives who sidestep these traps reduce their risk of inadvertently draining meaning from the work of the people in their organizations. Those leaders also will boost the odds of tapping into the motivational power of progress—something surprisingly few do.

We surveyed 669 managers at all levels of management, from dozens of companies and various industries around the world. We asked them to rank the importance of five employee motivators: incentives, recognition, clear goals, interpersonal support, and progress in the work. Only 8 percent of senior executives ranked progress as the most important motivator. Had they chosen randomly,20 percent would have done so. In short, our survey showed that most executives don’t understand the power of progress in meaningful work.5 And the traps revealed by the diaries suggest that most executives don’t act as though progress matters. You can do better.

Trap 1: Mediocrity signals

Most likely, your company aspires to greatness, articulating a high purpose for the organization in its corporate mission statement. But are you inadvertently signaling the opposite through your words and actions?

We saw this dynamic repeatedly at a well-known consumer products company we’ll call Karpenter Corporation, which was experiencing a rapid deterioration in the inner work lives of its employees as a result of the actions of a new top-management team. Within three years of our studying Karpenter, it had become unprofitable and was acquired by a smaller rival.

Karpenter’s top-management team espoused a vision of entrepreneurial cross-functional business teams. In theory, each team would operate autonomously, managing its share of the company’s resources to back its own new-product innovations. During the year we collected data from Karpenter teams, the annual report was full of references to the company’s innovation focus; in the first five sentences, “innovation” appeared three times.

In practice, however, those top managers were so focused on cost savings that they repeatedly negated the teams’ autonomy, dictated cost reduction goals that had to be met before any other priorities were, and—as a result—drove new-product innovation into the ground. This unintended, de facto hypocrisy took its toll, as a diary excerpt from a longtime Karpenter product engineer emphasizes:

Today I found out that our team will be concentrating on [cost savings] for the next several months instead of any new products. . . . It is getting very difficult to concentrate on removing pennies from the standard cost of an item. That is the only place that we have control over. Most of the time, quality suffers. It seems that our competition is putting out new products at a faster rate. . . . We are no longer the leader in innovation. We are the followers.

This employee’s work had begun to lose its meaning, and he wasn’t alone. Many of the other 65 Karpenter professionals in our study felt that they were doing mediocre work for a mediocre company—one for which they had previously felt fierce pride. By the end of our time collecting data at Karpenter, many of these employees were completely disengaged. Some of the very best had left.

The mediocrity trap was not unique to Karpenter. We saw it revealed in different guises in several of the companies we studied. At a chemicals firm, it stemmed from the top managers’ risk aversion. Consider these words from one researcher there:

A proposal for liquid/medical filtration using our new technology was tabled for the second time by the Gate 1 committee (five directors that screen new ideas). Although we had plenty of info for this stage of the game, the committee is uncomfortable with the risk and liability. The team, and myself, are frustrated about hurdles that we don’t know how to answer.

This company’s leaders also inadvertently signaled that, despite their rhetoric about being innovative and cutting edge, they were really more comfortable being ordinary.

Trap 2: Strategic ‘attention deficit disorder’

As an experienced leader, you probably scan your company’s external environment constantly for guidance in making your next strategic moves. What are competitors planning? Where are new ones popping up? What’s happening in the global economy, and what might the implications be for financing or future market priorities? You are probably brimming with ideas on where you’d like to take the company next. All of that is good, in theory.

In practice, we see too many top managers start and abandon initiatives so frequently that they appear to display a kind of attention deficit disorder (ADD) when it comes to strategy and tactics. They don’t allow sufficient time to discover whether initiatives are working, and they communicate insufficient rationales to their employees when they make strategic shifts.

Karpenter’s strategic ADD seemed to stem from its leaders’ short attention span, perhaps fueled by the CEO’s desire to embrace the latest management trends. The problem was evident in decisions at the level of product lines and extended all the way up to corporate strategy. If you blinked, you could miss the next strategic shift. In one employee’s words:

A quarterly product review was held with members of the [top team] and the general manager and president. Primary outcome from the meeting was a change in direction away from spray jet mops to revitalization of existing window squeegees. Four priorities were defined for product development, none of which were identified as priorities at our last quarterly update. The needle still points north, but we’ve turned the compass again.

At another company we studied, strategic ADD appeared to stem from a top team warring with itself. Corporate executives spent many months trying to nail down a new market strategy. Meanwhile, different vice presidents were pushing in different directions, rendering each of the leaders incapable of giving consistent direction to their people. This wreaked havoc in the trenches. One diarist, a project manager, felt that rather than committing herself to doing something great for particular customers, she needed to hedge her bets:

The VP gave us his opinion of which target candidates [for new products] may fit with overall company strategy—but, in reality, neither he nor anyone in our management structure knows what the strategy is. It makes this project a real balancing act—we need to go forward, but need to weigh commitments very carefully.

If high-level leaders don’t appear to have their act together on exactly where the organization should be heading, it’s awfully difficult for the troops to maintain a strong sense of purpose.

Trap 3: Corporate Keystone Kops

In the early decades of cinema, a popular series of silent-film comedies featured the Keystone Kops—fictional policemen so incompetent that they ran around in circles, mistakenly bashed each other on the head, and fumbled one case after another. The title of that series became synonymous with miscoordination. Our research found that many executives who think everything is going smoothly in the everyday workings of their organizations are blithely unaware that they preside over their own corporate version of the Keystone Kops. Some contribute to the farce through their actions, others by failing to act. At Karpenter, for example, top managers set up overly complex matrix reporting structures, repeatedly failed to hold support functions (such as purchasing and sales) accountable for coordinated action, and displayed a chronic indecisiveness that bred rushed analyses. In the words of one diarist:

Last-minute changes continue on [an important customer’s] assortments. Rather than think through the whole process and logically decide which assortments we want to show [the customer], we are instead using a shotgun approach of trying multiple assortments until we find one that works. In the meantime, we are expending a lot of time and effort on potential assortments only to find out later that an assortment has been dropped.

Although Karpenter’s example was egregious, the company was far from alone in creating chaotic situations for its workers. In one high-tech company we studied, for example, Keystone Kop–like scenarios played out around the actions of a rogue marketing function. As described in one engineer’s diary, the attempts of many teams to move forward with their projects were continually thwarted by signals from marketing that conflicted with those coming from R&D and other key functions. Marketers even failed to show up for many key meetings:

At a meeting with Pierce, Clay, and Joseph, I was told that someone from marketing would be attending our team meetings (finally). The meeting also gave me a chance to demonstrate to Joseph that we were getting mixed signals from marketing.

When coordination and support are absent within an organization, people stop believing that they can produce something of high quality. This makes it extremely difficult to maintain a sense of purpose.

Trap 4: Misbegotten ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’

Management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras encourage organizations to develop a “big, hairy, audacious goal” (BHAG, pronounced bee-hag)—a bold strategic vision statement that has powerful emotional appeal.6 BHAGs help infuse work with meaning by articulating the goals of the organization in a way that connects emotionally with peoples’ values. (Think of Google’s stated mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”)

At some companies, however, such statements are grandiose, containing little relevance or meaning for people in the trenches. They can be so extreme as to seem unattainable and so vague as to seem empty. The result is a meaning vacuum. Cynicism rises and drive plummets. Although we saw this trap clearly in only one of the seven companies we studied, we think it is sufficiently seductive and dangerous to warrant consideration.

That company, a chemicals firm, set a BHAG that all projects had to be innovative blockbustersthat would yield a minimum of $100 million in revenue annually, within five years of a project’s initiation. This goal did not infuse the work with meaning, because it had little to do with the day-to-day activities of people in the organization. It did not articulate milestones toward the goal; it did not provide for a range of experiments and outcomes to meet it; worst of all, it did not connect with anything the employees valued. Most of them wanted to provide something of value to their customers; an aggressive revenue target told them only about the value to the organization, not to the customer. Far from what Collins and Porras intended, this misbegotten BHAG was helping to destroy the employees’ sense of purpose.

Avoiding the traps

Spotting the traps from the executive suite is difficult enough; sidestepping them is harder still—and wasn’t the focus of our research. Nonetheless, it’s instructive to look at the one company in our study that avoided the traps, a creator of coated fabrics for weatherproof clothing and other applications. We recently interviewed its head, whom we’ll call Mark Hamilton. That conversation generated a few ideas that we hope will spark a lively discussion in your own C-suite. For example:

When you communicate with employees, do you provide strategic clarity that’s consistent with your organization’s capabilities and an understanding of where it can add the most value?Hamilton and his top team believed that innovating in processes, rather than products, was the key to creating the right combination of quality and value for customers. So he talked about process innovation at every all-company meeting, and he steadfastly supported it throughout the organization. This consistency helped everyone understand the strategy and even become jazzed about it.

Can you keep sight of the individual employee’s perspective? The best executives we studied internalize their early experiences and use them as reference points for gauging the signals that their own behavior will send to the troops. “Try hard to remember when you were working in the trenches,” Hamilton says. “If somebody asked you to do a bunch of work on something they hadn’t thought through, how meaningful could it be for you? How committed could you be?”

Do you have any early-warning systems that indicate when your view from the top doesn’t match the reality on the ground? Regular audits to gauge the effectiveness of coordination and support processes in areas such as marketing, sales, and purchasing can highlight pain points that demand senior management’s attention because they are starting to sap meaning from your people’s work. In Hamilton’s view, senior executives bear the responsibility for identifying and clearing away systemic impediments that prevent quality work from getting done.

Hamilton’s company was doing very well. But we believe that senior executives can provide a sense of purpose and progress even in bad economic times. Consider the situation that then–newly appointed Xerox head Anne Mulcahy faced in 2000, when the company verged on bankruptcy. Mulcahy refused her advisers’ recommendation to file for bankruptcy (unless all other options were exhausted) because of the demoralizing signal it would send to frontline employees. “What we have going for us,” she said, “is that our people believe we are in a war that we can win.”7 She was right, and her conviction helped carry Xerox through four years of arduous struggle to later success.

As an executive, you are in a better position than anyone to identify and articulate the higher purpose of what people do within your organization. Make that purpose real, support its achievement through consistent everyday actions, and you will create the meaning that motivates people toward greatness. Along the way, you may find greater meaning in your own work as a leader.

About the Authors

Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Steven Kramer is an independent researcher and writer.

create your own luck

Standard

How to create your own luck

By Astha Gupta First published: April 13th, 2012

 How to create your own luck
Is luck random, or can we cultivate our own good fortune? Discover how “lucky” people tick.

You’ve heard the phrase, “being in the right place at the right time”? Is that you? If not, read on to find out how you too can create your own luck…

It’s all in the mind

“You can instantly become luckier by simply believing that you are (even if you have to fake it til you make it!),” says Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success, $14.99, (Create Space). There is no coincidence in the lives of people who consider themselves lucky.

Everything that happens to them, they see it as proof they are celestially blessed which sets up a chain of self-fulfilling outcomes.

Create your own damn luck

If only you’d win a lottery… Well, don’t wait for something to fall into your lap. Instead believe the whole world is conspiring to help you achieve your dreams.

“You’ll have a higher success rate by simply trying more,” says Duffield-Thomas.

Celebrate every single win

Have you ever found a small coin in the street or scored a free coffee? How did you react afterwards? Did you smile, celebrate and thank your stars for your good fortune? If not, start now, advises Duffield-Thomas. Acknowledging every success creates a positive anchor in your mind and is another piece of “evidence” that proves you’re a lucky person.

Be the 1%

Take out your diary and start writing what you wish to achieve this week, this month, this year and in the next five years.

“Regular goal setting keeps you positive and trains your brain to search for corresponding opportunities,” says Duffield-Thomas. “Very few people have concrete, written goals beyond the New Year, so writing down your goals daily puts you in the top 1% of the population.”

Share wisely

Share your goals often because someone in your network could send an exciting opportunity your way, but learn to weed out the negative voices that tell you ‘your dreams are unrealistic’.

Act “as if”

Go and test drive your dream car, visit open-houses on the weekend and mark your calendar as if the dream trip is already a reality. This isn’t delusional wishful thinking; you’re preparing your subconscious for the real thing.

You deserve it

“The Universe will only treat you the way you treat yourself,” says Duffield-Thomas. So take out that special china or wear your favourite perfume every day setting up a clear message that you deserve the best.

Relax

Taking time to recharge and let your brain chill out gives you more energy to focus on future dreams instead of the stressful minutiae of daily life. Once you are focussed, you will have better ideas and results will flow.

Brainwash yourself

Duffield-Thomas’ final word of advice, “Watch your language and replace negative thoughts like ‘It never works for me’ with a daily affirmation of ‘I’m so lucky!’” Positive reinforcements do work. Try it.

Improve your thyroid function

Standard

 

To increase your metabolism, the thyroid needs to function at it best. Your thyroid is effectively, what gets your metabolic rate going through the roof or brings it to a complete halt. Support your thyroid function by including more seafood, nuts and seeds in your diet. These foods are high in selenium, vitamin E, iodine, zinc and copper which are essential nutrients for the thyroid.

green tea benefits

Standard

Drink green tea

High in antioxidants, green tea also contains catechins, a natural component that speeds up the metabolism. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown drinking three cups of green tea per day can help reduce body fat. Added bonus? Catechins have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, anti-cancer properties, and may help control cholesterol levels