Tag Archives: health

13 Simple Steps to Sanity (& Maybe Even Happiness).

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Photography by Ingrid Schroder.

I’m all up for seeking inspiration and soaking up all of the amazing offerings that are out there, but today I’m going in; I’m keeping it simple, and I’m taking my own advice.

Thirteen simple steps to sanity (and maybe even happiness) is what I’m going for here.

Instead of looking for some inspiration in angel cards, or in someone else’s yoga class, instead of pulling it from the tucks and folds of the never-ending flux and flow of the ocean or some other gem of the universe, today, I’m taking a leap of faith, and hoping that I’ll know just what to do.

When I woke up to find the thick sense of overwhelm just hovering there around me, I wasn’t sure I could ward off giving in. I felt baaaaaaad. ExhaustedOver it— “it” being, well, everything. My week of 5:30 a.m. toddler wake ups was killing me. I felt saturated; I felt like I was drowning, like everything I needed to achieve was completely out of my control.

Ugh, I hate that feeling—so familiar, and oh so ferociously friendly, but there was no way I was falling into that trap—no way I was going to be convinced or seduced or persuaded into the arms of that anxiety-laced and fear-ridden feeling of being overwhelmed.

Not today.

I had some notes I’d made to myself after moving through a big period of overwhelm a while back, so I decided it was time to have a little looksy and take my own advice.

And it went a lil’ somethin’ like this:

1. Before you even crawl out of bed, decide to make today good.

Undeterred by the amount of sleep you soaked up, the fact that your back may be killing, your neck cramping, your head pounding, your heart just dreading the day ahead of you, consciously decide that today is going to be a good day. Because you said so, and because ultimately, it’s you who gets to decide how to label your experiences.

You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it.

It’s easy to slide in to powerless mode, so take a moment to remind yourself that attitude and intention pave the path for the rest of your day. So, why not choose to begin yours consciously? It may just be time to wake up.

2. Now that you’ve pried yourself from the hands of heaven, the next step to feeling on top of your shit is to make that bed. 

Yes, now. Before you have coffee, before you walk the dog, before you shower.

Regardless of the mood flavoring your wake up, regardless of a bad sleep, an accidental sleep in, or hardly any sleep at all, make your bed—doing so will never make you feel worse. Just get the sheets anddooner on there. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be done. That one minute you spend making your bed will not only give you oodles of mental space, but it will actively create a crisp, clean start to your day.

Whether you’re a stay at home mum, a lawyer, a DJ, an artist, or serving up fries at Micky Dee’s, you’re day deserves a fresh start!

3. Time for a treat. 

Nothing like something from your favorites list to soothe the blow of waking up to whip your ass into feel-good mode! So go ahead, devour your favorite “breaky,” sip a naughty coffee, and put on your most cozy of cozy pants to start your day. Make yourself excited to be awake. Take your time. Have a long shower. Wash your hair. Scrub your face, use a fresh towel, your “special” face cream, your most beautiful body oil or perfume.

Stop skimping out on yourself!

Stop waiting for a “better day,” “more time,” or a “more important moment” to enjoy all the little pleasures you already have surrounding you—start enjoying your life now!

4. Grab your favorite pen and notebook, and make yourself a to do list.

Our brains can get pretty cramped up and crowded, making it a tiny bit tricky to find all the little mental notes we’ve scattered about, so instead, get those thoughts out onto the page and map out your week. Organize your time so that it works for you, making sure that you can get everything you need to get done, done.

Even if you feel resistant to making lists, do it anyways. The act of emptying out your to do’s is guaranteed to clear you out, inspire you up, and space up any business rattling around in your mind. There’s just something about seeing your week laid out and knowing that you’ve allocated specific time to get the things that need to get done, done, that makes you feel in control. After all, it is you, and no one else, who designs your time.

So sit yourself down. Make your list. Break every big task that’s freaking you out and throwing you into shock-stuck-static zone down into its smaller components. Make it easier on yourself. Make things manageable and achievable, because it’s pretty hard to motivate yourself when you feel defeated before you’ve even begun.

5. Do something off your list.

Start with a few small chores (little chores feel good too), and then move on to the big ones, the daunting ones, the one’s you’ve been dreading and dancing and darting around. And when you come up against those feelings of overwhelm, the ones that normally consume you and convince you that whatever you’ve been avaoiding doing can wait another day, remind yourself that what you resist most reaps the biggest rewards when done.

6: Make a conscious choice to enjoy whatever it is you have to do today. 

Whether it’s work, groceries, the dishes, cleaning the toilet, waiting in line, mowing the lawn, raising a child, serving up coffee…shake up your perspective and decide to relish in the good of today’s to do’s.

Whatever is happening right now is your life, so you may as well love it, or at least like it.

Cleaning isn’t as bad when you think about it as cleansing and creating space and spreading your heart out into your home. Tidying up and doing the gardening and filling the fridge and making the bed aren’t as mundane when you remind yourself of the fact that you do it because you are creating a homey, cozy space that you can relax and feel good in. When you start to notice the little beauties embedded and engraved into your every day tasks, you begin to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. It isn’t complicated; all you have to do is simply open your eyes.

7. Slow down! Ask yourself, do you really need to rush? 

What are you hurrying towards anyway?

What is it that could be worth rushing through your life for?

We miss the good, we miss the beauty, we miss the sweet smells and the sweet smiles and the overall sweetness of life when we rush through it. All the jewels go unnoticed when they’re whirling by in your peripheral vision, nothing getting the gift of your full attention. We’re always rushing to what’s next, looking for the next good quote, the next amazing photo, the next Facebook post, the next blog, the next pose we’ll master, our next home, next car—we rush towards, and usually into, our next relationship.

We’re constantly searching for more without ever fully acknowledging what is.

8. Smile, and mean it. 

Smiling takes the edge off, and let’s face it, it takes a lot of extra effort to be pissed off when you’re smiling.

Choose lightness and rock that beautiful smile. Your own day may not be the only one you make.

9. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return.

Open a door, carry someone’s groceries, share your fresh bread, give a friend a lift, leave a little love note, a little snack, a homemade card.

You can make a difference, so why not show some love?! 

(The act doesn’t have to be monumental or cost $100 to make someone’s day; it’s the little things…)

10. Breathe.

Seems ridiculous that we have to remind ourselves to do the one thing that keeps us alive doesn’t it? But realistically, how often to you think you really deeply, fully breathe? And, in contrast, how often do you find yourself holding your breath? How often is your breath speedy, sharp or short?

Exactly my point.

Breathing deeply is an instant de-stresser, a chiller-outer, a calmer-downer. It’s an emotion-shifter, a focus and energy-maker, an endorphin-releaser, and a toxin-taker.

So take a deep breath and milk that shit.

Photo: Somebody-Out There

11: Get outside.

Take a walk. Rake some leaves. Wash your car. Plant some flowers. Pick a bouquet.

Wake up and shake up and light up your day.

Walk to work. Take your lunch break outside. Sip your coffee in the sun, draft your blog by the ocean, go for a bike ride or a joyride, or a moonlit walk—just get outside. Arch and stretch and unwind and melt your body on your mat in the crisp morning sun. Hang your laundry out on the line. Take late afternoon strolls. Window shop. Go for a run.

Air yourself out, air your day out, your mind out, your heart out—just get out!

12: Move your body. 

Doesn’t matter how, just move it.

Have a living room dance party, jump some rope, practice your handstands, or your forward folds, or the splits. Mow the lawn.

Be open to spontaneity.

Play hopscotch or tag or hide and go seek. Chase your kids. Chase your dog, chase your man or lady. Go for a long walk, push that pram up some hills, climb some stairs, play beach volleyball, get in the ocean, or on your bike or your board, or put on your dancing shoes, but get moving!

Exercise will always makes you feel better, and moving your body will always make you feel more alive.

13. Get some rest!

Go to bed early. Have a nap. Rest when you need it, and don’t feel bad about it.

You need to rest—yes, you! 

We all do. Funny then that sleep tends to be the first gem to slip through our fingers, the first thing to take a hit when life gets tough and rough and spiky. But you know that everything is more difficult when you’re tired. So schedule it in. Make time for your sleep.

Accept that no one is able to schedule time in for you to relax and rest and re-charge but you.

Put it on your to do list. Slot it in instead of just waiting for it to spontaneously happen.

Life is never going to slow down or become less busy, so if you want to stay healthy and avoid burning out, you need to start carving out time for resting and refueling and recharing.

Being tired more than sucks. So choose to get enough sleep.

Remind yourself that being well rested paints everything in a brighter shade of light. Remind yourself that you can’t possibly continue to live your life well, and offer, and love and be calm and grounded and centered if you’re running your tank on empty!

So, it’s simple: take care of yourself, because you can.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or complicated.

Transformation doesn’t always require huge, mind-blowing shifts, and the changes we make don’t have to be extravagant or extra hard to initiate change.

Just keep it simple, remembering it’s the little things that make life big.

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What your cravings are trying to tell you

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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…

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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…

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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?

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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?

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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!

diet myths debunked

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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

mindfulness for healthy eating

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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).

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kapha dosha weight loss

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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.

green tea benefits

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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

what ages us and how to deal with it

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Five ageing accelerators

 

An extract from her book Eat Yourself Young

1 Sluggish digestion

A well-functioning digestive system is central to the anti-ageing process. But when the gut becomes sluggish the body doesn’t absorb nutrients very well –  skin, hair, nails, muscles and bones become undernourished and you start to look and feel older. Yeasts such as candida overgrow, causing toxic side effects, such as headaches, spots, chronic tiredness, depression, low energy and high cholesterol. Around 70 per cent of the immune system is located in the gut, so if it’s sluggish, immunity can be compromised. There’s also a connection between gut and mood: the digestive system contains more neurons than the spinal cord and more neurotransmitters than the brain. In fact, 90 per cent of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin is created in the bowels, so this so-called ‘eliminative slowdown’ influences mood and emotional wellbeing, too.

Best detoxifier: beetroot is your daily age-defying vitamin and mineral feast. Packed with folic acid, iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium carotenoids, vitamins A, Bs and C, it also contains highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory red pigment.

 

The charcoal test

To check your gut’s transit time, take 5g–10g charcoal (available from health-food shops) two hours before eating and five hours before bed. The perfect time for your bowel movements to turn black is
12–24 hours. Anything more and sluggish gut movement could cause toxic build-up. Anything less, and nutrients are not being absorbed properly.

 

2 Inflammation

Best anti-inflammatory: turmeric

This is our fast, natural reaction to injury, allergy and infection – as soon as a splinter pierces our skin, the inflammatory response kicks in to protect us. As we age, this response can become overreactive, leaving activated immune cells circulating in the body. Scientists have coined the word ‘inflammaging’ to describe this state of chronic low-level inflammation, and it can take a heavy toll on the body, causing infections, allergies and loss of skin quality.

The immune system starts in the gut, so if it’s inflamed (signs are gas, bloating, loose stools, tenderness) your immunity is compromised. Stay away from foods that cause bloating, or make your eyes or nose run. These are inflammatory responses. Classic inflammatory foods are red meat, sugar, white flour and some dairy products. Instead go for foods containing inflammation-dampening antioxidants (polyphenols), including curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), and omega-3 fatty acids.

Best anti-inflammatory: turmeric Aim for one teaspoon of dried turmeric or a thumb-sized piece of fresh root every day in juices, scrambled eggs, stir-fries or rice during cooking. Be careful as it
can stain hands and clothes.

 

Ease the oestrogen drop
Some women first notice joint pain and other inflammatory symptoms during the menopause, when oestrogen levels drop. Eating a diet rich in plant oestrogens (beans, seeds, leafy greens, whole grains) helps lessen inflammation naturally.

 

3 Oxidation

Best antioxidant: red beans

Every cell in the body needs oxygen, but it is highly reactive and always looking to combine with other molecules. When it does, it produces unstable atoms called free radicals, which then steal electrons from other atoms. This process can result in oxidative stress, which if prolonged can damage cell structure – even DNA. Our bodies have evolved many ways to manage oxidative stress, but when we are also exposed to high levels of external toxins, such as alcohol, stress, UV light and chemicals in food and cleaning products, it adds to the load we have to process and potentially increases the number of free radicals. A diet of colourful foods, such as green leafy veg, orange fruit and veg, purple berries, cacao nibs and green tea, can help as they contain high levels of
antioxidants, which give up an electron to bond with free radicals so they don’t have to steal them from your cells.

Best antioxidant: red beans Choose from kidney, pinto or aduki beans or small red beans. Their skins are rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanins and other compounds, which pack a big antioxidant punch and reduce eliminative slowdown and inflammation.

 

4 Hormone imbalance

When you are hormonally imbalanced your body is on an ageing roller coaster – you gain weight, your skin starts to wrinkle, you sleep badly, feel stressed and begin to look older. Hormones counterbalance each other in complex ways, so long-term over- or under-production of a specific hormone – often caused by diet or stress – can cause hormones to overreact. For example, an imbalance of stress hormones may cause wrinkles, abdominal fat gain, sleep disruption, anxiety, mood swings, allergies, headaches, susceptibility to infection, muscle weakness, sugar/alcohol cravings, gas and loss of libido.

Imbalance of thyroid hormones This may cause fatigue, dry skin, heart palpitations, cold hands and feet, thinning hair, brittle nails, weight gain/retention, menstrual irregularities and loss of libido.

Too much insulin This may cause cellulite, sagging skin, abdominal fat, fast weight gain, fatigue, poor memory, carbohydrate cravings, disrupted sleep, elevated blood fats and diabetes.

Diet can help you stabilise your hormones, as will lowering your stress levels with good food and sleep, which will also improve your mood.

Key hormone balancers Pumpkin seeds, asparagus, unrefined whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats), nuts (especially brazil nuts), oysters, liquorice (provided you don’t suffer from high blood pressure).

Best hormone balancer: garlic
It contains vitamin B6 which helps with serotonin production and corrects high cortisol levels – a frequent cause of night waking. Garlic is a source of phytoestrogens, which mimic the action of oestrogen and so can help perimenopausal and menopausal women. It also helps regulate  blood sugar levels. Aim to eat a clove a day.

 

Top brassica

Women’s testosterone declines during menopause, leading to less muscle and even more fat around the middle. Eat lots of cabbage and broccoli — good testosterone-supporting foods (unless you have an underactive thyroid).

 

5 Acidification

Best alkaliser: lemon

Every cell in the body works best when the fluid inside it is slightly alkaline. But when we eat too many acid-producing foods, such as meat, coffee, cheese, cereal, sugary drinks and snacks, the resulting long-term acid overload – acidification – makes us susceptible to ageing processes.

To neutralise excess acid, the body pulls calcium (which is alkaline) and magnesium from bones, weakening them and potentially leading to osteoporosis. Iodine is taken from soft tissue, which negatively affects the thyroid, leading to fatigue and depression, mental ‘fog’, weight gain and diabetes.

Chronic acidity may also encourage fatty acids to go from a negative to a positive charge and to stick to artery walls, leading to the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Enzyme function may weaken, creating digestive disorders and food intolerances.

There’s a big difference between acidic foods and acid-forming foods. For example, citrus fruits are acidic but have an alkalising effect on the body. You can reverse acidity by avoiding acid-forming foods and eating an alkaline diet – fruit, vegetables and legumes (such as lentils).

Best alkaliser: lemon For a powerful alkalising start to your day drink lemon juice in warm water. It flushes away the liver’s by-products. Use a straw so acid doesn’t harm tooth enamel.

 

Glug the greens
When you eat a meal high in acid-forming foods, balance it later in the day with a big glass of green juice. Try a mix of celery, spinach, lettuce, kale, parsley, lemon and fresh ginger. It’ll boost your alkalinity.

 

The five most ageing foods

1 Sugar

There is a vast difference between simple sugars – the refined processed kind usually added to foods – and the slow-releasing carbohydrates that the body converts to glucose to use as fuel. One is ageing, the other is vital. Sugar is involved in four of the ageing processes – acidification, inflammation, eliminative slowdown and hormonal imbalance. A diet full of highly sugared foods slows the body’s ability to regenerate itself and so speeds the ageing process. On an everyday level it causes aching joints, cravings, flabby belly, lack of muscle tone, lowered alertness, mood swings, puffy eyes, spots, tooth decay and wrinkles. Sugar has been shown to shorten life span, hence its nickname, ‘white death’. It is the most ageing food of all.

Switch to slow-release carbohydrates (whole grains, pulses, fruit and veg) instead of refined sugar. Many savoury foods are sweet too. Try beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, tomato, almonds or pistachios when you crave a sweet kick. Good fats slow down the metabolism of sugar, so eat
fruit with nuts and seeds.
Don’t join the sugar rush
Your brain runs on glucose, but unlike other organs, it cannot store it — the amount it gets is the amount that happens to be travelling round the bloodstream. This makes it vulnerable to fluctuating levels of blood sugar. So a sugary snack or drink is like injecting your brain with glucose. You get an instant hit, which quickly diminishes, and your brain goes into crisis mode: you feel weak, headachey, moody and unable to concentrate. In short, all the ageing symptoms of hypoglycaemia. The answer is to avoid processed sugars and fuel your brain with complex carbohydrates instead.

 

2 Salt

Sodium and chloride – the two components of salt – are important minerals that, along with potassium, keep muscles, nerves and cells functioning well. Despite being an essential compound, salt is ageing simply because we eat too much of it. It’s a cheap flavour enhancer as well as a preservative, and is found in overprocessed foods as well as in ‘healthy’ foods, such as canned beans, cold meats, cheese, bran cereals and soups. Look for anything that says ‘sodium’ on the label, including sodium sulphite (in dried fruits) and sodium alginate (in ice cream). Overconsumption accelerates the ageing processes of acidification, eliminative slowdown, hormone imbalance and inflammation.

You should consume no more than 3g salt (1g sodium) per day. The easiest way to do this is to stop adding salt to your food and avoid processed foods that have more than 0.2g sodium per 100g.

Switch to herbs and, if you must have salt, use Himalayan rock salt or Celtic sea salt, which contain more minerals than table salt and taste ‘saltier’ so you need less.

Halt the salt
A high-salt diet causes inflammation: the cells swell with water, which upsets the sodium/potassium balance that generates the energy needed to move muscles and nerves, causing weakness
and fatigue.

 

3 Cow’s milk

Although cow’s milk is full of calcium, vitamins and protein, it also triggers four of the ageing processes – eliminative slowdown (causing bloating, constipation or diarrhoea), inflammation (mucus, stiff joints, inflammatory bowel disorders), hormonal imbalance (affecting blood sugar and oestrogen levels) and is acid-forming. Therefore it needs to be balanced by alkalising foods such as vegetables, otherwise calcium (an alkaline) is leached from bones and teeth, negating the effects of this so-called calcium-rich food in the first place. It’s also been linked to serious health conditions, including diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers, and can be a major allergen linked to asthma and eczema. Look out also for milk derivatives (casein and lactose) in breads, cakes, biscuits, processed meats and crisps.

Switch to goat’s, sheep’s or buffalo milk, which are richer in many vitamins and minerals and contain anti-inflammatory oligosaccharides, which boost friendly gut bacteria and are easier to digest, especially as yoghurt. Try cheeses such as manchego, feta and mozzarella, which are not from cow’s milk. For calcium, switch to dark green leafy veg, beans, nuts and seeds, grains and nut milks.

 

4 Meat

We need protein to build muscles, ligaments and skin

We need protein to build muscles, ligaments and skin. But meat is not the only protein and as well as triggering all five of the ageing processes, it is loaded with saturated fats and very calorific.
Meat is one of the most acid-forming foodstuffs and because of its high levels of saturated fats, it causes chronic inflammation. Processed meat is high in cancer-causing sulphites and nitrites. It irritates the gut and frying, grilling or chargrilling causes DNA-altering, cancer-causing compounds.
It also causes free radicals and leads to oxidative stress.

Switch to fish, which is a good source of protein. Other youth-making proteins include eggs, grains (especially amaranth and quinoa), legumes (beans, lentils, tofu), nuts and seeds. If you do eat meat limit it to one portion (up to 100g) once a week, preferably free-range chicken/turkey or organic lamb (once a month).

 

Meats to avoid
Sausages, bacon, ham, burgers, hot dogs and barbecued, grilled and roasted meats should be avoided if possible as they are acid-forming, cause inflammation and some are high in cancer-causing sulphites and nitrites.

 

5 Bad fats

Bad fats are transfats or hydrogenated fats

Fats are essential for maintaining cell structure, helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and for healthy-looking skin, brain function, mood and energy.

Every cell in our body has a protective outer coating of fat and protein. If that coating is fluid (ie, made of good fats), it can help cells absorb nutrients and water, as well as process chemical messengers. If it is not fluid (because of a diet of bad fats), this process is impaired. It’s thought that lack of fluidity is a trigger for many ageing symptoms, including decline in skin quality, inflammation, allergies, depression, PMT, joint pain and osteoarthritis.

Bad fats are transfats or hydrogenated fats and, even though UK producers are phasing out transfats, they are still widely found in processed foods such as cakes, fast food, ice cream and oils for deep frying. They interfere with cell function and cause inflammation, acidification, oxidation and hormonal imbalance. Transfats have also been linked to depression, coronary heart disease, raising bad cholesterol and lowering good, and increasing the risk of degenerative diseases. They may also lead to blood sugar disorders as they disrupt the action of insulin.

Switch to fats from unprocessed oily fish, avocados, goat/sheep products, soya and nuts. It’s better to eat full fat than processed low-fat foods and cold-pressed rather than refined oils.

 

Don’t be coconut shy

Coconut oil is a saturated fat — a phrase that usually rings alarm bells. But because it is plant-based, it contains short- and medium-chain triglycerides, which are healthier for you than the long-chain triglycerides found in saturated animal fats. The liver burns shorter-chain triglycerides as energy so, despite coconut oil being highly calorific, it can help with weight loss — one study shows that women aged 20 to 40 have smaller waists after eating coconut oil for 12 weeks. It may lower blood cholesterol too, making it a top youth-making choice.

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