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I must admit, I am "heavy" on helping you to understand your WHY . And I cannot disagree with Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Let's not dive too deep into philosophy here, but you got the main point. Our values  flow from our identity - who we think we are. We find our values when we answer questions like: What do I want to be? Who do I want to be? What is important? What is “right”? What really matters in life? 
 I believe that to be truly happy, we must live in harmony with our deepest values. If we don’t, our bodies and minds will eventually rebel and our lives will suffer. Think of a time when you did something that went against your values. Let’s say you consider yourself an honest person. Recall the last time you told a lie. How did it make you feel? Probably pretty crappy, right? Now, remember the last time you stood up for your value of honesty and told the truth, even though it wasn't easy. How did that make you feel? Probably not so great at the time; but in the end, it did feel right for you. When you go against your values, you feel bad. It drains your energy and vitality. Everything seems more difficult and frustrating (no, sometimes it is not lack of sleep or too much work. Unless, again, your job goes against your values). When we live our values, we feel good, and we’re able to fully express our potential. We live and work with integrity and authenticity. If your behaviours don’t match your values, you might still be come succe ssful. But deeply  happy? I doubt it. The “5 Whys” approach. This system was originally used by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The idea is very simple: you come up with a statement and ask yourself five consecutive WHYs. Here's how I did it when I decided to study nutrition. Why did I decide to study nutrition? Because I was tired of discovering tons of confusing information about healthy eating - I wanted to be able to share nutrition research and science-based tools with people who most needed them. Why did I want to share this information with the world? Because I struggled with extra weight, body image and hormonal imbalances for years. I felt  the pain.    Why did I struggle with these issues? Because some I was born with and could not change the situation, while others affected the quality of my life.  Why did they affect the quality of my life?  Being overweight had a great impact on my confidence as a teenager, my self-esteem and the ways I was building relationships.   Why did this have such an impact? Because growing up, little Evgeniya didn't receive unconditional love and acceptance from her family. Wow. That’s a lot of detail for a few little questions. As it turns out, It's not about just studying nutrition, it's about unconditional love from my family. Interesting stuff. Now it’s your turn to play. Why do you want to stay healthy? Really. Give it some thought. Be honest.  There might be plenty of reasons: Good health allows you to enjoy life to the fullest by engaging in physical activities and pursuing your passions. It reduces the risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Mental health and overall well-being boost your self-esteem and confidence. It can also lead to a longer life, giving you the opportunity to spend more time with loved ones and achieve your goals. These are all great reasons, and I am sure a few of them resonate with you. But how deeply do they speak to you? Curiosity  is a part of being human. It pushes us to think about who we are, what things mean, and our place in the world. And sometimes (ok, most of the time), it is not easy to find answers to these questions.  This is the existential dimension  of life - the part of us that seeks purpose and deeper meaning. A super important topic as it’s closely linked to our health, well-being, and ability to get results in other areas of life. The fact is, most of us are in the constant state of “seeking” without realising it. We may think  we want a new diet, workout plan, health routine, and so on. But often, we are trying to fill a larger void. And without checking in with our deeper “why,” we sometimes may find it difficult to stick to healthy behaviours, because, at the end of the day, what’s the point? Life is too short, so why not indulge here and now? When we understand our reasons for doing things and what feeds our souls: We have a deeper “why” for our work and lives.  “Work” doesn’t have to be a job. It needs to have meaning for you, whether it is gardening, caregiving or practising a skill. We have a strong sense of self-worth.  We feel like we “fit” somewhere in the world and that we are valued simply for being us . We feel part of a “bigger picture” or a larger purpose.  This could be taking care of a plant or a loved one. Or being of service to others. Now, how do we get here? Well, like everything in life, practice makes progress . So along with exploring Big Questions like: Who am I as a person? What do I believe in? What matters most to me? What am I doing in my life? What should  I be doing in my life? Where is it all going? it’s important to take daily actions that help build our existential resilience . Go outside. Look up at the sky. Really think for a minute about just how big  the space is. Like, huge . People typically experience the meaning of life by connecting to and valuing something larger than themselves—a divine being, the universe, or some broader project. We can practice this by purposely shifting our focus to things larger than ourselves.  This might happen when: You are in nature, looking out on a landscape or the depth of the sea Observe your child, and realise that trillions  of chemical reactions had to go just right to bring him into this world Even physically moving our eyes to a long-distance focus can help us reflect on our ties to the bigger, wider world. Give it a try yourself. Observe what you feel and what comes to mind. It might feel uncomfortable and awkward at first. But eventually, you might be surprised to see how a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life  - how your WHY - improves and sustains your health and resilience in all aspects of life.

Discovering Your "Why" for Being Healthy: A Guide to Understanding Your Motivation

I must admit, I am "heavy" on helping you to understand your WHY. And I cannot disagree with Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously said: “He...

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***The following blog article is based on personal experiences and research. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise routine. The Link Between Weight Loss and Happiness  Weight loss is often seen as a means to achieve happiness and fulfilment. We are bombarded with images of slim and toned bodies, and society often equates being thin with being happy. However, the connection between weight loss and happiness may not be as straightforward as it seems. While shedding excess weight can certainly boost your self-esteem and confidence, true happiness goes beyond the number on the scale. Understanding that weight loss alone does not guarantee lasting joy is crucial. Happiness comes from within. Most of the time. Body image  plays a significant role in the weight loss journey. Society's unrealistic beauty standards can lead to a negative perception of our bodies, which can hinder our progress and self-acceptance. It is important to remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and what matters most is how we feel in our skin. When embarking on a weight loss journey, it is crucial to focus on our overall well-being rather than striving for an idealised body image. By shifting our mindset to focus on health and self-care, we can find joy in the process of improving our physical and mental well-being. Understanding the Dangers of Dieting and Disordered Eating Dieting has become a common approach to weight loss, but it often leads to a cycle of restriction and deprivation. Many diets are unsustainable and can have negative effects on our physical and mental health. Moreover, they can contribute to the development of disordered eating . Disordered eating is characterised by unhealthy relationships with food, such as extreme dieting or binge eating, which may lead to a full-blown eating disorder if this behaviour is not addressed on time. Not only can it take a toll on our physical health, but it can also affect our emotional well-being. It is important to acknowledge the potential risks associated with dieting and instead, adopt a balanced approach to weight loss that prioritises nourishing our bodies rather than depriving them. Instead of choosing fad diets or extreme measures, it is crucial to adopt sustainable and healthy approaches to weight loss. This involves making lifestyle changes that can be maintained in the long run . A nutritious and balanced diet, combined with regular physical activity, is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. It is essential to focus on nourishing our bodies with whole, unprocessed foods and finding joy in physical activities that we enjoy. By making gradual changes and setting realistic goals, we can create a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that supports our weight loss journey. The Importance of Self-Love and Acceptance in the Weight Loss Process Self-love and acceptance are vital components of any weight loss journey. It is crucial to embrace and love ourselves at every stage, regardless of our current weight or body shape. Our worth is not determined by the number on the scale, but rather by our inherent value as individuals. Practising self-love involves treating ourselves with kindness, compassion, and respect. It means celebrating our bodies for their strength and resilience, rather than focusing on perceived flaws. It means finding joy in the process of weight loss and appreciating the progress we make along the way (however small). How do you maintain a positive mindset during the weight loss journey? It is normal to face challenges and setbacks, but it is how we respond to them that makes all the difference. Here are a few tips to help you stay positive and motivated: Set realistic goals. Surround yourself with support. Practice gratitude. Celebrate non-scale victories. Practice self-care. And What about Sweating it Out? Exercising might help you burn extra calories, but, in reality, it does so much more for your health. Regular physical activity can boost our mood, increase energy levels and change how we perceive our bodies. Engaging in activities that we enjoy and that align with our values  is key to making exercise a sustainable part of our lives. Whether it's dancing, swimming, hiking or yoga, an activity should bring you joy. Exercise should not be seen as a punishment but rather as a way to nourish and strengthen our bodies. Nurturing a Healthy Relationship with Food for Long-Term Success Developing a healthy relationship with food is essential for long-term success in weight maintenance. Instead of viewing food as the enemy, we should see it as a source of nourishment and pleasure. Practising mindful eating through listening to the hunger and fullness cues can help us reconnect with our bodies. By paying attention to our body's signals and eating intuitively, we can develop a healthier relationship with food and make choices that support our overall well-being. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Rather than solely focusing on the end goal, finding joy in the everyday moments can make the journey more meaningful. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Be proud of the choices you make that support your well-being. Embracing the journey and finding joy in the process is what will ultimately lead to lasting happiness and fulfilment. Seeking Professional Support on Your Weight Loss Journey Embarking on a weight loss journey can be overwhelming, and seeking professional help and support can make all the difference. Nutritional Therapy and Health Coaching are valuable resources that can help uncover the real reasons behind your weight loss struggles. A Nutritional Therapist can provide you with personalised guidance on diet and lifestyle changes, whereas health coaching focuses on mindset and behaviour change, helping you overcome barriers and create sustainable habits for long-term success. Ready to uncover the real reasons behind your weight loss struggles? Book a free discovery call  today!

Discovering the Path to Lasting Joy: Unveiling the Hidden Truths Behind Weight Loss

***The following blog article is based on personal experiences and research. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional...

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Eating disorders are serious health conditions that can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental well-being. They are characterized by disturbances in eating behaviours and a distorted perception of food, weight, and body shape. While eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are well-known, there is another category that lies on a spectrum between normal eating and a full-blown eating disorder. This is known as disordered eating. Disordered eating encompasses a range of symptoms and behaviours related to eating disorders but at a lesser frequency or lower level of severity. It may include restrictive eating, compulsive eating, irregular or inflexible eating patterns and dieting, which is one of the most common forms of disordered eating. The Risks of Disordered Eating and Dieting Disordered eating behaviours, particularly dieting, are significant risk factors for the development of eating disorders. Eating disorders are severe and life-threatening mental illnesses that require professional intervention. Restricting food intake can have profound effects on the body, leading to changes in metabolism and triggering overeating and binge-eating behaviours. Additionally, dieting is associated with various mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety. The impact of disordered eating goes beyond the physical realm. It can negatively affect a person's quality of life, making it harder to cope with stressful situations. Feelings of guilt and shame are common among individuals with disordered eating habits. Binge eating or deviating from a restrictive diet can trigger these emotions, leading to a cycle of self-criticism and low self-esteem. Consequently, individuals may isolate themselves from social situations involving food, contributing to social withdrawal and diminished self-confidence. The Diet Myth: Understanding the Vicious Cycle Dieting plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. Many eating disorders are perpetuated by what is known as the "diet cycle." This cycle illustrates how restrictive eating and subsequent breaking of the diet rules can lead to negative emotions and a resolve to "do better,"  ultimately restarting the cycle. The diet cycle typically follows these stages: Diet/Restriction:  a person limits their food intake in quantity or by excluding specific foods or food groups. Deprivation:  the body and mind respond to food restriction by slowing down the metabolism, increasing appetite and intensifying cravings for the restricted foods. This stage often involves feelings of deprivation, irritability and fatigue. Breaking the Diet Rule:  the diet rules are inevitably broken, as the body craves and needs the restricted foods. This often results in overeating or binge eating. Emotional Impact:  breaking the diet rule triggers feelings of guilt, low self-esteem and negative body image. Individuals may perceive themselves as failures lacking willpower. Dissatisfaction with Weight or Shape:  the emotional impact leads to a renewed determination to "do better"  and often prompts a return to dieting or restriction, perpetuating the cycle. The Risks of Disordered Eating and Dieting Disordered eating poses severe risks to an individual's physical and mental health. It can lead to the development of clinically diagnosed eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED). Disordered eating can result in various health complications, including osteoporosis or osteopenia (reduced bone density), fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and muscle cramps. What are the Signs of Disordered Eating? One of the signs of disordered eating is rapid weight loss . People who are struggling with disordered eating may go to great lengths to shed pounds, often resorting to restrictive diets or excessive exercise. This obsession with weight loss becomes all-consuming and it can be a clear indication that something is not right. Another sign of disordered eating is an unhealthy preoccupation with food and diet . Individuals may become fixated on counting calories, meticulously tracking every bit of food that enters their mouth. They may also develop irrational fears of certain foods or food groups, leading to a highly restrictive and unbalanced diet. This constant preoccupation can cause anxiety and guilt around food. Binge eating  is another sign of disordered eating. People who engage in binge eating episodes often feel a loss of control over their eating habits and consume large quantities of food in a short period of time, leading to feelings of guilt and shame. Disordered eating can have serious consequences on physical health, including nutrient deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. Changing Disordered Eating Behaviors The good news is that it is possible to change disordered eating behaviours, even if they have persisted for years. With the right support and treatment, behaviour change is achievable. Seeking help is crucial, as disordered eating and dieting are key risk factors for the development of eating disorders. Early intervention is the most effective preventative measure against the progression of disordered eating into a full-blown eating disorder. Remember, CHANGE is possible. Seeking support from healthcare professionals and therapists who specialise in treating disordered eating can make a significant difference in recovery and overall well-being. Remember, you are not alone in this battle , and there is help available to support you on your journey towards a healthier relationship with food, emotions and thoughts References: Qian J, Wu Y, Liu F, Zhu Y, Jin H, Zhang H, Wan Y, Li C, Yu D. An update on the prevalence of eating disorders in the general population: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 2021:1-4. Samuels KL, Maine MM, Tantillo M. Disordered eating, eating disorders, and body image in midlife and older women. Current psychiatry reports. 2019 Aug;21:1-9. Wilksch SM, O'Shea A, Ho P, Byrne S, Wade TD. The relationship between social media use and disordered eating in young adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2020 Jan;53(1):96-106.

Do I Have Symptoms of Disordered Eating?

Learn about the spectrum of disordered eating, its risks, the signs and symptoms of disordered eating and how it can impact your health.

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How many times have you heard this from people? I feel fat. You may feel “fat”,  “out of shape”, or “stressed”. And when you say you are “feeling” those things, I believe you. Most probably, you are feeling it throughout your whole body, whether you are aware of it or not. So to you, “feeling fat” (or whatever) is a feeling. 
 It normally comes with a set of physical sensations, such as: 
 being overly aware of the tightness of clothing; feeling heavy and sluggish; feeling bloated, or a sense of outward pressure in the stomach; feeling physically awkward in one’s movements; feeling “too large” or expansive. 
 And, not coincidentally, many of the sensations of “feeling fat” are the same sensations as feeling, say, depressed. Or sad. Or anxious. Or self-conscious. Or embarrassed and ashamed. Or frustrated.  It all gets blended up, and comes out as “feeling fat.” We “feel” what we pay attention to.  So a person who “feels fat” or “feels fit” isn’t necessarily expressing an objective reality. They’re communicating a whole world of inner sensations, emotions and unconscious thoughts without realising it, most of the time. Unfortunately, It is difficult to negotiate, persuade or think your way out of a feeling problem, especially when those feelings involve physical sensations.  Our perception of our bodies is subjective. But more importantly, our body perception - interoception - also shapes our experiences of the world and ourselves. What is interoception? Interoception is the sensation of the internal body states (such as hunger, fullness and physical discomfort), which plays a crucial role in the experience of our body image, emotions and feelings of fatness. Research suggests that interoceptive awareness is directly linked to body dissatisfaction and emotional regulation (Khalsa et al., 2018). Interoceptive awareness training is a technique that focuses on increasing interoceptive awareness and reducing the fear and avoidance of bodily sensations (Khalsa et al., 2018) where people learn to develop a more accurate perception of their internal states. The concept of feeling fat is complex and goes beyond a simple perception of being overweight. It involves a cognitive attribution error , where people mislabel emotional experiences and bodily sensations that fluctuate throughout the day (Fairburn, 2008). According to recent research, there is a connection between feeling fat and binge-eating symptoms (Mehak & Racine, 2021). The Connection between Emotions and Binge-Eating Emotions such as guilt, shame and disgust often accompany the perception of being "fat" or overweight and have a strong connection to binge-eating episodes (Berg et al., 2013; Schaefer et al., 2020) as a way to temporarily alleviate these emotions, associated with body image and weight. However, this reliefis followed by the same feelings of guilt, shame and disgust, as individuals may regret their lack of control and perceived failure to achieve societal standards of beauty. This negative cycle, where binge eating becomes a maladaptive coping mechanism for dealing with guilt and shame, can further perpetuate the association between feeling fat and binge eating. Nevertheless, not all individuals who feel fat engage in binge eating, as people's responses to these emotions can be different. Some may resort to restrictive eating or other disordered eating behaviours instead. The Role of Cognitive-Affective Variables in Interoception Cognitive-affective variables, such as depression (Linardon et al., 2018), anxiety and shame can influence interoceptive processes and the perception of bodily sensations (Khalsa et al., 2018). Individuals with higher levels of depression or anxiety may have a heightened sensitivity to bodily sensations, leading to a distorted perception of feeling fat independent of their actual body weight or shape. Shame, as a self-directed negative emotion, can further exacerbate the misinterpretation of bodily cues and contribute to the experience of feeling fat (Khalsa et al., 2018). Strategies for Addressing Feeling Fat and Promoting a Healthy Body Image What can you do to feel better in your own skin and minimise all those "fat" feelings? Concentrate on positive self-talk.  Start developing a positive inner dialogue by promoting self-acceptance and self-love. Focus on your accomplishments, strengths, and unique qualities rather than just  on your appearance or weight. 
 
 For example, instead of saying, "I feel fat," reframe it as "Even If I do not feel my best today, I'm still strong and capable." 
 Challenge unrealistic beauty standards . Beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, and forms. Unfortunately, some of them are not promoted by the media and society.  
 Focus on nourishing your body. Eat foods you love and which love you back, whatever they might be. Move your body more. Engage in physical activities that you enjoy rather than striving for a specific body shape or size. Health is not determined by appearance but by physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. 
 Create a supportive environment. Search for support groups, online community or therapy where you can have open conversations about your feelings, body image, and have access to relevant resources for further support. 
 Emphasise self-care and self-compassion.  Engage in activities that bring joy and fulfilment, whether practising mindfulness, engaging in your favourite hobbies or getting enough rest. 
  Use social media mindfully.  Learn about the potential negative impact of social media on body image and self-esteem. Critically evaluate your scrolling and start to follow accounts that lift you up and not make you feel worse about yourself. 
 Address underlying emotional issues.  Recognise that body image concerns often stem from deeper emotional issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or past trauma. Asking for help is powerful, so consider reaching out for support through therapy or counselling. Curious to learn more? Book  a a free 30-min non-obligatory discovery call to help you get started on your journey to better health! References: Anderson, L. M., Hall, L. M. J., Crosby, R. D., Crow, S. J., Berg, K. C., Durkin, N. E., Engel, S. G., & Peterson, C. B. (2022). “Feeling fat,” disgust, guilt, and shame: Preliminary evaluation of a mediation model of binge-eating in adults with higher-weight bodies. Body Image, 42, 32–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.05.008 Levinson, C. A., Williams, B. M., & Christian, C. (2020). What are the Emotions Underlying Feeling Fat and Fear of Weight Gain? Journal of Affective Disorders, 277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.08.012 Linardon, J., Susanto, L., Tepper, H., & Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M. (2020). Self-compassion as a moderator of the relationships between shape and weight overvaluation and eating disorder psychopathology, psychosocial impairment, and psychological distress. Body Image, 33, 183–189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.03.001 Mehak, A., & Racine, S. E. (2020). Understanding “feeling fat” and its underlying mechanisms: The importance of multimethod measurement. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(9), 1400–1404. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23336

Feeling Fat: Understanding the Complexities of Body Image and Emotions

How many times have you heard this from people? I feel fat. You may feel “fat”, “out of shape”, or “stressed”. And when you say you are...

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As someone who has struggled with hormonal issues, weight loss and body image for years, I can appreciate the importance of a holistic, mind-body approach to health and wellness. After years of trying to discover a perfect fad diet that would eventually agree with my body (you guessed it, it never did), I discovered the world of Nutritional Therapy. It’s not just about eating healthy but understanding the connection between what we put in our bodies and how it affects our overall health. If you think about it, and as trivial as it might sound,  "we are what we eat".  The stuff we put in our mouths eventually becomes cells, tissues and organs.  It creates emotions and thoughts.    What is Nutritional Therapy? Nutritional therapy is a holistic approach to health that focuses on the role of nutrition in optimising physical and emotional well-being. It’s not just about eating healthy foods, but understanding how the nutrients in those foods affect our body’s systems and functions.  Nutritional therapy is based on the belief that food can be medicine and that by making specific dietary changes, we can optimise our health and prevent disease. Nutritional therapy is often used in conjunction with functional medicine to provide a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. By addressing nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, identifying and treating the root cause of disease, functional medicine and nutritional therapy can provide a powerful tool for improving health outcomes. Who are we, Nutritional Therapists? Nutritional therapists are trained professionals who use nutrition as a science-based tool to support and optimise health. They work with clients to develop personalised nutrition plans that consider their unique needs, preferences and health goals. Nutritional therapists are trained to identify nutritional deficiencies and imbalances and to recommend dietary changes, supplements and other lifestyle modifications that can address gut issues, energy and stress levels, emotional relationship with food and overall well-being. The link between nutrition and disease prevention is well-established.  Poor nutrition is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. How Nutritional Therapy Can Help with Weight Loss One of the reasons why people seek out nutritional therapy is to lose weight. A Nutritional Therapist can help you identify dietary imbalances and deficiencies contributing to weight gain and recommend dietary changes to support weight loss, including guidance on portion control, mindful eating and other sustainable, long-term strategies. Emotional eating and stress eating  are common issues that can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. Nutritional therapy can help address these issues by identifying the underlying emotional and psychological factors driving these behaviours. A Nutritional Therapist can help you to adopt healthy coping mechanisms, and recommend dietary changes and supplements (if needed) that can support emotional and mental health. The Role of Nutritional Therapy in Gut Health and Digestive Issues Nutritional therapy can also play a key role in improving gut health and treating digestive issues. The gut is home to trillions of bacteria that play a critical role in digestion and overall health. Through Nutritional Therapy, we can identify dietary imbalances and deficiencies that may be contributing to gut issues and recommend dietary changes and supplements that can support gut health. Finding a Nutritional Therapist and What to Expect in a Session If you would like to explore nutritional therapy, the first step is to find a qualified nutritional therapist. Look for someone who is licensed or certified and who has experience working with clients with similar health concerns. In your first session, your nutritional therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your health history and current dietary habits, and develop a personalised nutrition plan based on your unique needs and health goals. Nutritional therapy is a powerful tool for optimising health and preventing disease.  Whether you’re struggling with chronic disease, weight issues or digestive problems, nutritional therapy can play a key role in your health journey. So why not start seeing food as medicine and give Nutritional Therapy a try?

Food for Thought: Why Nutritional Therapy is the Missing Ingredient in Your Health Journey

As someone who has struggled with hormonal issues, weight loss and body image for years, I can appreciate the importance of a holistic,...

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Seek out nature. A recent scientific review concluded that systematic forest exposure - a practice called “ forest bathing ” - offers genuine health benefits.   (No actual bathing is involved unless you get caught in a rainfall).  The researchers report that forest bathing may temporarily lower stress hormone levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improve sleep quality.   According to the scientists, forest bathing is a meditative practice that includes walking at a “non-tiring pace” with stops to do breathing exercises and contemplate nature. Sessions usually last two to four hours and are supervised by a trained guide, say the researchers.  Obviously, that doesn’t sound all that practical for many of us - at least not as a regular activity.  But, like so many health and fitness practices, it’s not all-or-nothing.  Based on the scientists’ analysis, the minimal effective dose is 10 to 30 minutes for a single session of sitting or walking in the woods. Longer exposures are linked to stronger and longer-lasting effects.  Plus, “forest bathing” just sounds delightful , doesn’t it?   Of course, you might wonder: Doesn’t a nice walk around the neighbourhood or a city park offer many of the same benefits? Probably, but they may each offer unique bonuses  as well.    Mainly:    Moving? Good.  Getting outside? Good.    Taking time for yourself? Good.  So, do more of that, as well as you are able to.   Reference: Antonelli M, Donelli D, Carlone L, Maggini V, Firenzuoli F, Bedeschi E. Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review . Int J Environ Health Res. 2021 Apr 28;1–26. PMID: 33910423

Forest Bathing: The Health Benefits of Connecting with Nature

Seek out nature. A recent scientific review concluded that systematic forest exposure - a practice called “forest bathing” - offers...

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Here’s a wake-up call: If you’re sleep deprived, a recent study from Michigan State University suggests caffeine may not be the productivity booster many people believe it to be.  The scientists found that while caffeine may make you more alert and focused, it won’t help you do your best thinking.   Specifically, lack of sleep had a negative effect on cognitive functions associated with problem-solving, multi-tasking, and impulse inhibition.   And “for a large number of participants,” consuming caffeine didn’t make up for the lack of sleep.  That doesn’t mean caffeine offers zero benefits. But with or without caffeine, your work is likely to be more disorganized after a poor night of sleep, say the researchers.  What’s more, lack of sleep can make you grumpier in your social relationships, more frustrated in daily life, and less able to manage your feelings and emotions - all of which can seriously mess with your eating behaviours.   While some people don’t need as much sleep as others, what you’ve probably been told is a good guideline: The vast majority of adults need seven to nine hours of sleep  per night. Nevertheless, this depends on our unique physiology, where feeling rested is a good measure of sufficient sleep.  Reference:  Stepan ME, Altmann EM, Fenn KM. Caffeine selectively mitigates cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation . J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2021 May 20. PMID: 34014758

How Caffeine Affects Sleep and Productivity: The Surprising Truth Revealed

Here’s a wake-up call: If you’re sleep deprived, a recent study from Michigan State University suggests caffeine may not be the...

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It’s not your imagination: “Hanger” is real, according to science.   In a recent study, scientists compared two groups of women: one had fasted for the previous 14 hours, the other had just eaten.   The fasting group reported: More negative emotions, including anger, tension, fatigue, and confusion. 
 Fewer positive emotions - lower vigour and slightly lower feelings of self-esteem.   
 This can be problematic for some people as negative emotions can be linked to overeating, unsuccessful diets, and weight gain.  You don’t need to be a nutrition scientist to see how those things might affect one another.   So what can you do about "hanger" ?  If you experience it often, your diet might be too  restrictive.   Try focusing less on restriction and more on adding  foods that support your goals (fresh produce is a great place to start).  Granted, everyone feels hungry at times (especially if you’re trying to lose weight).  But there’s a difference between being “a little bit hungry” and “so hungry my brain is going to explode!” “A little bit hungry” is normal, and with practice, you can build your tolerance for it.  Remind yourself that most hunger isn’t actually an emergency. It tends to come in waves (so if you wait, it dissipates).  This is a worthwhile skill NOT because you want to restrict yourself.   Instead, it’s a tool for when you really can’t eat.   For instance, situations like preparing for a colonoscopy or being stuck in traffic can be quite challenging.  Because in those times? Hanger only makes a bad situation worse.   Ackermans MA, Jonker NC, Bennik EC, de Jong PJ. Hunger increases negative and decreases positive emotions in women with a healthy weight . Appetite. 2022 Jan 1;168:105746. PMID: 34637770

How Emotions Affect Hunger: The Science Behind "Hanger"

It’s not your imagination: “Hanger” is real, according to science. In a recent study, scientists compared two groups of women: one had...

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How you think about stress REALLY matters.   Turns out, there’s a huge difference between:  “Ugh, why does everything in my life have to be so HARD!?”   And…   “This sucks, but I can learn and grow from it.”  Research shows that people with healthier stress mindsets cope better when confronted with stressors.   And progress may take WAY less time than you might think, according to a study published in Emotion .   The scientists found that right after people did a short journaling exercise, they immediately - and for two weeks after - experienced a better attitude about stress. 
  
 Want to try a similar experiment? Do one of these visualization activities: Come up with a list of common stressors and write down what someone might learn from them. 
 Imagine the top three stressors  you think you’ll deal with in the next month. Then detail how you might tackle them and grow from them. 
 Spend five minutes jotting down what was most stressful for you in the past week and the positives that came from that stress (no matter how small). It's important to understand that changing our mindset isn't easy  and requires continuous reinforcement  over time to make it a permanent part of our thinking. We all need support and encouragement along the way, and that's perfectly okay. Remember to be kind to yourself  and keep pushing forward towards your goals! Keech JJ, Hagger MS, Hamilton K. Changing stress mindsets with a novel imagery intervention: A randomized controlled trial . Emotion. 2021 Feb;21(1):123–36. PMID: 31566399

How to Handle Stress Better: Tips for a Healthier Mindset

How you think about stress REALLY matters. Turns out, there’s a huge difference between: “Ugh, why does everything in my life have to be...

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I have a special interest in stress & emotional eating, so I asked one of my best friends to share her story. Here is how she finds her way back to healthy, mindful eating.  Overeating can be tough. 
 
 If you struggle with it, you are not alone. I am an overeater, I've always been. Education plays a big role in it, at least it does for me. 
 "Finish your plate!" – my parents said. Our family lunches would start at noon and finish at 6 pm.... 7 courses meals... easy. When you say that to people who've never experienced it, they say: "Were you still hungry by the 4th dish? I would have felt stuffed!" 
 These people don't understand what it is to have an endless pit as a stomach. 
 Of course, you are not hungry, but you were trained not to listen to your hunger cues. You are eating because someone took the time to cook and invited you to their home... It would be rude not to eat. 
 Cooking is a way to show your love in many cultures. Typically, the more I love you, the more I will enjoy cooking new recipes when you come over. And of course, there will be quantity because if we finish a dish, it means there wasn't enough of it... Right? 🤪 It all comes down to giving, loving and nurturing.  Coming from a southern French/Italian background, it is a cultural thing for us. We love to cook for others and let's be honest, we love our food. Healthy food but still... quantity matters. 
 Let's fast forward a little bit because WHY we love to prepare and eat these multi courses meals matter. More often than not, the same people who plan these are the ones who didn't have access to a lot of variety and quantity of food when growing up. They are kind of making up for it. I believe it is important to know why we are overdoing it so we can deal with the root cause. That can explain why our parents are overeating, but what about us? If you live in a "developed" country, you have access to all the food you need and you probably always have. I believe that the way your parents educated you and the habits they "forced" on you is hard to change. Hard but not impossible. I always struggled with overeating. I could sit at the family table and eat the multi courses meals while drinking wine even if I wasn't hungry. I would eat out of respect and love for others. It felt uncomfortable afterwards and I usually needed a nap. But in the moment, I was eating whatever was served to me without thinking twice about it. Again, a respect & love thing. Now that I have been living on my own for a while, I can see how harmful that is. I overeat without noticing it because my hunger cues are gone.  Let me rephrase this: I don't listen to it . For years I was in the vicious circle of overeating and working out to make up for it. I would binge on everything that would come my way: a full cake, entire bars of chocolate, bags of chips... you name it. As long as it was fatty, salty or sugary. And most of the time I would go from something sugary to salty, back to sugary... until I felt so stuffed that I wanted to sleep it off. I would overeat while being alone because I was ashamed. Ashamed of not being able to control me. I have always been a strong-minded person. My friends and family describe me as such. So no, I couldn't share this weakness with them. Not talking about it makes it worse , believe me. I was using food to overcome a void. I was mainly feeling lonely and dealt with it the only way I knew how. As I always loved working out, I would burn the calories off but as we all know: You can't outrun a bad diet. So, there were days when I would not eat anything; others when I would overeat... A vicious circle. That ended when I got to live with my ex-boyfriend for 4 years. I guess emotional stability was what I needed. I would overeat from time to time... I was eating as much as my 100kg and 1.96 meters ex... but never like I did while being single (or in crappy relationships). Overeating is indeed a way to cope and make up for emotional struggles. Why am I sharing the relationship story with you? Because most of the time, overeating is linked to emotional imbalance. Staying in bad relationships brings your confidence down, you devalue yourself being on a constant roller coaster. It took me years to understand this, but ultimately YOU  are the one setting up the bar on how others treat you. It is YOUR  responsibility and choice to set it as high or as low as you want. If you don't have standards and boundaries, the people you'll let into your life will eventually set them for you .  It takes work, dedication and courage but it is worth it. I am still working on that by the way. 😉 Breaking the overeating cycle is hard and it can come back anytime. After years of not overeating, I thought I was done with it. I was eating right: whole foods and balanced meals 99% of the time. Then I became single... Shit happens folks! And you guessed it... After a few months, it started again. I now feel like in a rabbit hole most days. And that's the thing. The problem with overcoming overeating and then going back to it is that it lowers your confidence and it makes it so much harder to battle it again. Because you failed . I failed. So what's the solution? These are the things I am doing: Talking about it with my close friends and/or with people who are experiencing it; Dealing with the reason why I overeat (the root cause); Being kind to myself and knowing it's ok to screw up; Slowly going back to portion control and not going drastic with calorie counting and restriction. It works for some people but if you are anything like me, it will just make you feel restricted and you will probably end up feeling stressed and the circle will start again. If you are trying to overcome overeating for the first time, I would suggest finding alternatives to your processed comfort foods, making homemade cakes when you feel like having some and concentrating on the balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients in your meals. It sounds basic, but it works long-term. So, take baby steps and try to work on the root cause. That's what worked for me in the past and I believe that could help you too. Comment below, share your story and let's overcome this together. ♥️

How to Stop Emotional and Binge Eating: Tips and Strategies

I have a special interest in stress & emotional eating, so I asked one of my best friends to share her story. Here is how she finds her...

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***The following blog article is based on personal & professional experiences and research. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle routine. The addiction paradigm Addiction is an overpowering craving to repeatedly engage in an activity that provides temporary relief at the expense of often unwanted consequences. People feel compelled  to do something. Disordered eating can also have addictive traits where some people do not feel fully in control of their behaviours (even though “control” may be a key component of restriction).  Addiction is a survival, defence and self-protection mechanism. It’s also a process that is powerfully driven by our behaviour, neurotransmitters, familiar routines and environmental cues. Addiction solves a problem.  People will engage in addictive behaviours to escape painful feelings and unpleasant truths. It’s driven by the same motive: to check out, numb, escape, and/or self-soothe. Addictions travel in packs.  People with compulsive disordered eating may also tend to excessively: drink smoke gamble shop work exercise engage in "toxic" relationships 
 People may also experience powerful emotions, such as anxiety and controlling behaviours in an attempt to manage the addiction. Addiction is often situational. People with disordered eating might say they eat (or restrict) when they are experiencing a particular emotion or they are in a specific situation. They will often have very detailed knowledge of food and eating/not eating; exercise; calories; carbs/fat grams, etc. They will have excellent (and very specific ways) to get or avoid food. They will often engage in ritualised behaviours and movements (doing a “cupboard circuit”). The chemistry of addiction Addiction is complex. But there’s strong evidence for susceptibility towards it. One of the most important features of an addiction is the “hit”. The rush. To an addict, the hit is everything. And the hit can be  anything — anything that gives the brain a shot of feel-good chemicals, such as the following: Dopamine  is one of your “yay!” neurotransmitters. It’s the “rush” neurotransmitter that’s involved in excitement and getting a reward. Serotonin  and GABA  are a couple of your feel-good neurotransmitters. They soothe and calm you. Reduce anxiety. Oxytocin  is a love drug. It’s involved in both sexual and parental bonding, and it makes us feel connected to others. 
 Opioids  and endocannabinoids  are natural painkillers. 
 We synthesize all of these chemicals (both in our brains and GI tracts), and can also get them either through food itself, the act of eating, or the act of anticipating  eating. 
 For example: Simple sugars and starches can give us a serotonin rush. Stimulation of the trigeminal nerve at the jaw when we chew can stimulate serotonin production; stimulation of the vagal afferent nerve can produce oxytocin release. People with genetically lower dopamine are more motivated to eat, and they eat more, than people with genetically higher levels. Casomorphin in dairy and gluten in wheat both contain opioid peptides that can affect mood. Processed foods are manufactured specifically  to give us a huge hit from eating them. Furthermore, exogenous (external) administration of these feel-good chemicals can affect appetite, food intake and gastric activity. 
 Many antidepressants (which work on serotonin receptors) can cause a lack of appetite and digestive problems. In excess, serotonin can cause nausea and diarrhoea. Opioids inhibit gastric motility, leading to the dreaded post-surgery constipation. Endocannabinoids seem to increase both “wanting” and “liking” food. They also suppress nausea. 
 We may think of disordered eating  as a logical outcome of humans’ natural self-calming and pleasure-stimulating machinery. We’re already wired to produce our own drugs. All we need is a way to do it - whether that’s food, sex or any other kind of “hit”. 
 Evidence suggests that neurochemically: 
 People with restricted food intake have a “reverse” serotonin setup. Not eating and controlling their food intake is what gives them the “hit”. People who purge may be seeking the rush from the purge , not the binge. The purge is the “hit”. The binge is just a way to get there. 
 What does the evidence tell us? Disordered eating may not be a cognitive choice.  It’s not just a simple matter of “wanting to be thin” or “making unwise choices”. Disordered eating is a phenomenon that involves the body, mind, and spirit. Our beliefs. Our behaviours. Our biochemistry. What approaches can you adopt to get back to "normal" eating? Normal eating is a very broad term, What's normal for me might look disordered to you. Let's refer to an overall balanced, nourishing diet here.   For many disordered eaters, trying to manage addictive foods is often more difficult than just letting go of them. However, some of them may do better with a gradual reduction of the behaviours, triggers and addictive substances and situations. Try asking yourself these questions: 
 What strategies have they already tried to deal with your disordered eating? What worked? Why? What didn't work? Why not? Was it easier to manage some behaviours than others? Use a food journal to record your food intake along with your feelings, both positive and negative. Note which strategies are more or less effective. Look at your behaviour as a chain of events. For example, a binge may begin several hours earlier, during a stressful situation at work. You may then plan to eat when you get home, stop to buy food on the way, settle into your favourite eating spot in the house and so on, The earlier you can intervene in this chain of events, the better chance you’ll have to avoid the unwanted behaviour. 
 Ambivalence and contradiction. 
 Food "addiction" is a way to solve a problem, until it becomes its own problem.  It work s as a coping mechanism until it's not. You may find yourself feeling puzzled or confused. You may want to stop but feel unable to do so. Use your food journal to observe and record the competing motivations and thoughts you are experiencing. Write down whether you noticed any thoughts or feelings that seemed to be pushing or pulling you in different directions. There is a problem that you are trying to solve with food. What this might be? 
 Be mindful of potential nutritional deficiencies. 
 These deficiencies may come from, or contribute to, disordered eating thought and feelings, including: gastric malabsorption of nutrients from inflammatory bowel or food intolerances deficiencies of trace minerals such as magnesium and zinc deficiencies of important vitamins such as B vitamins omega-3 deficiencies very low-carb or low-protein diets skin/hair problems hormone imbalances neurotransmitter imbalances 
 Work with a nutritional professional to assess and correct any underlying GI issues and nutrient deficiencies. Make sure you cover the nutritional and lifestyle fundamentals by consuming colourful fruits and vegetables, enough lean protein (we need protein for synthesising many crucial neurotransmitters) and sufficient carbohydrates. Many disordered eating patterns develop as a direct result of carb restriction. Sometimes one sweet potato, bowl of quinoa or lentil salad a day can make a real difference. Ensure that there is enough saturated fat in your nutrition plan, including eggs, meat, coconut oil or butter. Consider working with a nutritional professional to assess potential nutrient deficiencies. If you do not tend to eat enough red meat, you might need to supplement with minerals and animal-based vitamin A. If you do not get enough sunshine, you might need to supplement with (subject to the blood test results and personalised advice): vitamin D (1000-2000 IU) B vitamins Omega-3 (1-3 grams) A high-quality probiotic Habits are powerful. But awareness is powerful too. A food journal can be a great tool to increase your awareness and motivate you to change, especially If you’re ready to embrace patience and persistence. So, can we develop a real addiction to something we absolutely need to survive?  I think this question will remain controversial for a while.

Is food addiction real? Exploring the Link with Disordered Eating

***The following blog article is based on personal & professional experiences and research. It is important to consult with a healthcare...

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As the year comes to a close, it is the perfect time to reflect on the goals we set for ourselves and how far we have come in achieving them. It's a great way to measure our progress and provides us with valuable insights and motivation for the coming year. When we take the time to look back at the goals we set for our health and overall happiness, we can see just how much we have accomplished, how strong we have become and how much further we can go. Whether it was joining a gym, starting a new exercise routine, or making healthier food choices, looking back allows us to see how these actions have impacted our overall well-being. Every tiny achievement counts. Did we take steps to prioritize self-care and mental well-being? Did we engage in activities that brought us joy and fulfilment ? By looking back, we can see if we really made time for ourselves and took steps towards creating a happier life. Moreover, by reflecting on our goals at the end of the year, we can analyse what worked well for us and what didn't. We can make informed decisions about how to approach our goals in the future. We can identify successful strategies and apply them to new goals or tweak them for even better results. What are my Biggest Takeaways from 2023? Kindness is everything.  How could something as simple as kindness hold such power? In a world where people often put their own needs above others, I always knew that a simple act of kindness has the power to brighten someone's day and create a ripple effect of joy. As I showed up to the world with kindness (while meeting unkindness sometimes), my confidence began to grow. It was as if each act of bravery propelled me further into a realm of self-assurance. Confidence, I learnt, grows in proportion to your brave actions – public speaking, trying new activities and stepping out of your comfort zone.  Living my way into the answer became my mantra. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment or seeking outside validation, I embraced the notion of taking action and learning along the way. I realised that sometimes, the answers we seek can only be found through experience, not contemplation or overthinking it. In moments of uncertainty, I ask myself: "What would love and courage do?"  This simple mantra guided my actions, helping me to navigate through life's challenges with grace and determination. It became my guiding light in times of uncertainty, reminding me to approach situations with compassion and bravery. Through this simple question, I found clarity and made decisions that were aligned with my values. You learn the most about people when they are stressed, confused or overwhelmed.   I put myself in odd situations just to see how people would react. From asking people for weird favours to rejecting invitations from friends, I discovered the quirkiest sides of people's personalities. It was during these times that true colours shone through, revealing the core of a person's character. I learnt to observe, to listen and to understand, realising that there is much more to individuals than meets the eye. No one ever became less fearful by avoiding their fears.  I understood that sometimes, the only way to overcome fear is to face it head-on. Whether it is jumping from a plane or confronting a difficult conversation, I learnt that the path to growth lies in embracing fear rather than running from it. The cure for pain is to heal the same pain in others. Or at least intend to. Helping someone when you feel down can shift your perspective on the world and make a real difference in how you feel in the moment.  The best revenge is not to be that way.  In a world filled with bitterness and vengeance, I choose a different path – one of forgiveness and understanding. By rising above negativity and embracing a positive mindset, I found true liberation. Truth is not found by defending your beliefs, but by dismantling them.  I learnt to question my assumptions and open my mind to different perspectives in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the world around me.  Learning to tolerate rejection makes you unstoppable and resilient in the face of adversity.   Rejection is not a reflection of your worth, but merely a detour on the road to your authentic self. Each rejection became an opportunity for growth, propelling me further along MY path. I embraced rejection, laughed it off and used it as fuel to become unstoppable. My heart is filled with a burning curiosity to explore what is still to come. I take these lessons with me into 2024, ready to face the world with kindness, curiosity and determination to make a difference. My journey will be filled with laughter, growth and a sprinkle of craziness - this I know for sure! True kindness, confidence and wisdom come from embracing life's quirks and finding joy in those simplest moments . What lessons will life bring my way in 2024? I’m very curious to find out. And I know I have the right tools to face whatever sh*t storm comes my way!

New Year Health Resolutions: Lessons Learned in 2023 and Goals for 2024

As the year comes to a close, it is the perfect time to reflect on the goals we set for ourselves and how far we have come in achieving...

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