Body image and acceptance

Body image has nothing to do with size or shape; whether we think we are fat, thin, good looking or not, or anything in between.

It is the product of peer, media, social, cultural and familial values. These values can have a very strong influence on our self-perception, self worth and self-esteem: leading us to believe we are ‘less than’ if we do not fit into the mould that is expected of us.

We are surrounded with images of ‘perfect’ bodies, diets that promise we’ll get there if only we starve ourselves, or over exercising in the vain hope we will achieve the body of our dreams and then…..be happy!By+working+on+our+inner+world+–+we+can+make+profound+shifts+in+our+metabolic+world

But time and time again both research and individual experiences show that getting the perfect body does not in anyway guarantee you happiness or anything else for that matter.

Instead of thinking you have to be someone else, be somewhere else, lose the weight to achieve what you want, what about looking at it through the lens of everything you want is right here, right now.
Looking at the possibility that by concentrating on not being happy with your body, and obsessing over diet and punishing exercise, you are missing out on so much else in life that is right here for the taking but you might not be able to see it clearly…. yet.

When we are stressing out about weight/looks/what the number on the scales is saying, and we are holding onto old messages about not being good enough, it puts the body into a stress response and that means the body is in fight or flight mode.
This means the metabolism slows down and hey presto the body holds onto fat because it thinks it might need to keep fat supplies on board in this stressful time in case of scarcity.

We all have a choice: feel bad about your body or love and accept it fully. It is all about acceptance.
The moment of acceptance liberates people from the underlying belief that achieving perfection would somehow make them a more lovable and worthy person in this world. Which of course is not true.

Once you get to a point of acceptance that you are a beautiful and wonderful person just the way you are, it is a liberation.
It is a freedom from the shackles of yesterday and the body image/weight struggle you have been holding on to for a long time.
A ‘weight’ will literally have been lifted off your shoulders and you are free to be the best person you can be in the world.

Shutting down the voices, looks and criticisms of others is hard, but when you really think about it, they are only other people’s perceptions and it actually says more about their own insecurities than it does about you.
Being courageous enough to shut it all out and know you are better than the number on the scales or the size of your thighs is the only path to self-love and self acceptance.

Looking inwards instead of out and feeling into your true needs and values, liberates you from the constant cycle of yo yo dieting, over exercising and so on, that can feel like such a burden.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem like something you want to continue to fight with in your life.

And with your focus on self awareness and how you feel inside, possibilities open up.
With the body no longer in a stressed state, you are in the best possible position for your weight to stabilise where it needs to be – providing of course, that you are eating a healthy diet and exercising moderately.

Here are a few basic tips for working towards that place of acceptance:How+to+be+an+amazingly+powerful+woman-+love+your+body

  1. Gratitude for what is, here and now and what is actually working in your life.

Even if you are in the most unhealthy place of your life right now and stressing over your body in some way, something IS working.
The fact that you can breath is proof. Look for other parts of your life that you are grateful for. Spend time every day focusing your awareness on what you love about your life and your body and how it serves you.

  1. Listen to the needs of your body.

Your body wants to be loved and taken care of. It wants to be stretched, exercised, nourished and touched.
It wants to feel good. Moderate exercise, meditation, breath work and healthy eating are all part of the package, slow everything down!
Pay attention, listen to what your body really needs.

  1. Rewire your brain.

Information and thoughts move through your brain via neural pathways. The more your thoughts follow a specific pathway, the stronger that pathway becomes.
If you are thinking “I’m fat, I’m ugly” every day, those pathways become very strong indeed and become your default thoughts.

Neuroplasticity, which essentially means that the brain is capable of changing it’s neural pathways, means you can create new pathways with messages of self-love and kindness instead of self rejection and body hate.
One way to interrupt your negative thinking is to say “that’s not true” when your inner critic pops up with a derogatory comment on your body. Then gently reply with what you know is true, find simple words to counteract the negative ones.

  1. Re-evaluate your self-worth.

How we nourish our bodies has a lot to do with self-worth. Until you feel worthy of feeling your best, you will constantly undermine your own efforts to achieving that end. And nourishing our bodies is not just about what we eat.

Find a way of telling yourself you are worthy and why, look inward for the answers. Telling yourself could be through journalling or meditation or chanting for example.
Making this a daily practice and not trying to force anything, but simply staying patient with this, you will be likely to see your attitude becomes more loving to yourself and it is then easier for acceptance to naturally follow.

  1. Don’t believe everything you tell yourself

Our minds are filled with the thoughts, beliefs and values of all the people who influence our lives and stuff from the past that no longer serves us.
Having a strong sense of self comes from tuning out the voices of everyone else and being curious about what’s going on inside you, listening to your own intuition, feelings, needs and desires. All your answers are in there somewhere.
It’s about doing what feels authentic to you and letting go of the need to get everyone else’s approval.
Letting go of the fear of judgement of others.
Letting go of your own self judgement.Every+unwanted+behavior+around+food,+body,+and+health+is+a+distorted+attempt+to+re-achieve+wholeness

The only thing you have to do is feel you are meeting your own needs and relax into the possibility that when you are no longer worrying about your body image or weight, that there is more freedom to live the life you really want as an empowered and happy person.

I hope you enjoy this post, feel free to contact me or send me a Facebook message if you would like more information about how my coaching with body image and other subjects works, or for general information about the coaching process.

Check out my half price offer for coaching sessions booked, paid for and taken in June/July 2016.

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The tyrant within us all

book coverI recently came across this interesting article by Philip Shepherd, a Canadian author and teacher who spreads the word so beautifully about connecting with ourselves, looking inward not outward to find our answers. It fits in with my current topic of self connection, self awareness and self love.

It is about the tyrant voice that’s in all of us telling us what to do and which is often in conflict with and unaligned to how we really, deep down, want to be.

The Tyrant’s Confusion – by Philip Shepherd

In his classic book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell presents not just the hero, but also the tyrant with a thousand faces – and shows him to be an equal force at work within the stories of world myth.  As those stories bring the tyrant to life for us, we witness his desperate self-centeredness, his need to acquire and hold fast to whatever he can, and his impulses to manipulate people and circumstances to suit his personal agenda.  What distinguishes the tyrant’s attitude above all else is his belief that he deserves his special status because, according to some private yardstick, he is better than others.

If the reader of Campbell’s book is astute, she will detect within the lineaments of the tyrant a mirror that shows up aspects of her own nature.  We all harbor tyrannical tendencies – first, because we are human, but even more so because we live in a culture that is committed to the tyrant’s goals of acquiring and controlling, and which sees those goals as normal and prudent.

The tyrant’s impulses generate such a hold on our culture that they impact our relationships with nature, food production, medicine, justice, education, spirituality and consumption.  The tyrant’s influence is seen in the value we place on “personal net worth,” and in our devotion to an economic model that has to grow without limit to remain stable – more, more, always more.  The tyrant’s worldview is seen in the fears that separate us from our neighbours and insist, “Just leave me alone.”  The tyrant’s assumptions are evident in the way we speak about nature as something we don’t really belong to – and even speak of great tracts of it as belonging to us.

Our culture identifies so deeply with the aspirations of the tyrant that when Campbell characterises him as, “the man of self-achieved independence,” we find in that phrase a

precise description of the American Dream – echoing as it does “the self-made millionaire.”

There is a strange cognitive dissonance in our relationship with tyranny.  Even as we denounce it in the political realm, we rely on it in the personal realm.  Multiple private, top-down decisions are what get us through each day.  We sit in our heads and tell ourselves what to do and how to do it.  We develop an image of how we should be and try to make ourselves conform to that idea.  This habitual mode is deeply familiar – but it is a divided state in which you can neither think nor act with the whole of your being.  One part of you presumes to know what’s best, and supervises the rest of you to achieve it.

The problem that prompts us into such division is how to move forward, what to do next?  The hero attunes to the world and finds guidance there – feels it calling to him, pointing him forward.  We contract from the world and move forward not as a summons to life, but the way a manager in his office overlooking the factory floor calls the shots and run the show.  Our habit of supervising from the head runs roughshod over the sensitivities of our being.

Doing is our imperative.  Its dictates divorce us from the present, and consequently lead to a deep confusion in our understanding of self and world – one that does damage to both.  This is particularly evident in our confusion between ‘me’ and ‘mine’.  We frequently mistake one for the other.  For instance, we may talk about ‘my body’ as we would talk about ‘my car’ – as something that gets us around, and maybe doesn’t look as great as we’d like it to; as something that requires maintenance, checkups, and the right fuels; and as something that occasionally fails and doesn’t run without supervision, even though it’s got impressive computing power.  As something, ultimately, that we have.

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But the body isn’t something you have, nor is it a tool you use to interact with your environment.  The body is you – it is your mindful presence in the world.  If I were to pinch your arm, I’d be pinching you.  Thinking of the body as a possession – as ‘mine’ rather than as ‘me’ – radically biases your experience, objectifying and contracting it, so that you feel separate from your living context.

We similarly turn what is ‘mine’ into ‘me’.  In the same way that we might relate to the body as though it were a vehicle, we can relate to a vehicle as though it were an extension of the self.  The look and power and precise handling of a car can play a significant role in how we feel about ourselves.  We don’t just own a car, we identify with it.  Car manufacturers make hay from that, offering their new products as flattering opportunities for self-expression and affirmation – subtly assuring us that we deserve such an affirmation.  But the car does not express you.  It is an object that was assembled of metal, plastic and glass in a factory you’ve likely never seen.  What the car expresses are the specific qualities that the manufacturer believes will entice you to buy it – qualities you want to be identified with.

The way we identify with cars is just one example of how what we buy blurs into who we are.  And whether we confuse what is ‘mine’ with ‘me’ or the other way around, the effect is the same: it objectifies, contracts and divides our experiences of self and world.  The way we construe ownership precipitates that effect, igniting the fantasies of the tyrant – fantasies that all revolve around the idea of fortifying an existence so that it can achieve independence from the world.  In our culture we heap personal expectations on the promise of such independence – but it is a slippery fantasy.  No example of independence can be found anywhere in the world: everything leans on everything.  Everything depends on everything.  Independence doesn’t exist.

So when we call a thing ‘mine’, we can either acknowledge the transience of what that means, the limitations of it, or we can in our minds separate that thing from the world and relegate it to the exclusive and abstract realm of a possession.  If we do the latter, we objectify the possession, as though it stood independent of the world’s processes; wecontract the self by announcing our allegiance to that exclusive and abstract realm; and we divide the objects of the world into the categories of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’.

Eventually the confusion between ‘me’ and ‘mine’ transfers the same qualities onto the self: it too becomes objectified, contracted and divided.  That experience of the self is pretty much accepted as normal in our culture.  We think it’s what being human feels like.  But having habituated to that ‘normal’ state,

we miss the transient reality of ‘ownership’, in which our true role can only be understood as that of a caretaker; and we also miss the reality of ‘me’ which, untethered from the constricting limits of ‘mine’, richly dilates and discovers that all the world lives in us, as we live in it.

All experience is shared experience.  The tree outside my window and I exchange breaths.  The pull of the moon draws my blood, just as it lifts oceans.  The pebble at my feet is more ancient than I by millions of years, but is created of the same star matter that is even now stitching together to create the cells that sustain my life.  Tree, moon, pebble, stars, and all else live through me, and I have no reality independent of them.

The tyrant’s insistence on independence, his acquisitiveness, and his need for control live in each of us – but so, too, do the hero’s capacity for feeling What Is, and his passions for inquisitiveness, harmony, and an unconfined, Give+the+world+what+it+needs+-+all+of+you+just+as+you+areuncontracted experience of life.  Those passions are dulled in us by our confusion about ‘me’ and ‘mine’; and frankly, rekindling them is dangerous – doing so would threaten the status quo we live by, and topple our devotion to the head as the rightful ruler of the self.

But reigniting the hero’s passions within you does not mean a rejection of doing – it rather initiates a journey on which you learn what it means to ‘do’ with the whole of your being sensationally present.  The fantasies of the tyrant make that impossible, rooted as they are in the contracted fiction of independence.  But if you can see those fantasies for what they are, and liberate your heart from them, you can come home to your true nature.  When that happens, your experience of ‘me’ becomes expansive rather than contracted – felt as an energetic field rather than as a material limit.  When your actions find guidance in being, they bring harmony rather than division.  Who you are becomes inclusive rather than exclusive.  ‘Mine’ inspires gratitude rather than entitlement or defensiveness.  And the field of your attention softens to become world-conscious rather than self-conscious.

The journey out of the tyrant’s frenzied fantasies brings many gifts, but perhaps the greatest is the way it returns our sense of self to the felt reality that holds us in its arms.

And I believe that such a transformation can only take place as we return to the full, mindful reality of our bodies.

Philip Shepherd

www.philipshepherd.com

I hope you enjoyed this article by Philip Shepherd

If you would like further information on how to get in touch with your deepest needs and yearnings, if you feel stuck in your life right now and would like to find your way to what you truly want and need, please get in touch either by messaging me through my website contact page or via my  Facebook page

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Self Love – What does that really mean?

By Deborah at Eat and Nourish194206-Self-Love

 

Self love is about bringing yourself back home to you, to be nurtured, embraced and cared for by you, its about losing self judgement and accepting yourself exactly as you are.
It’s about tuning in to your body and listening for what you really want.
The self is like the sun, often obscured by clouds but it’s always there, waiting for connection and compassion.

It is very easy to get so caught up in caring for others and  our busy lives, that we end up putting our selves at the bottom of our attention and care list.

For some people it may also be difficult to feel that they ‘deserve’ self love.
This feeling may be caused by events in their past, limiting beliefs, repeated patterns, or outdated stories; we keep telling ourselves that are disempowering and no longer serve us.
This can lead to beating ourselves up when we can’t seem to lose the weight or eating habit we no longer want, or we are not happy with how our body looks.
For many people this starts with endless new diets, one after the other, expecting that this new diet will solve all the problems. Well, in most cases it doesn’t really work very well, at least not in the long run.
Research shows that around 90% of diets ultimately fail.
The main reason for this is because there is so much more to weight and body image than how many calories are eaten and how much exercise is done.

Most diets leave us disappointed and disempowered. The diet ‘doesn’t work’ or the progress is too slow and we get despondent and self judgemental, telling ourselves stories about how rubbish we are at this, we do not have the willpower, there must be something wrong with us, or we give up on the whole idea and feel like we are back at square one again.

This way of thinking is essentially flawed because to make changes to ourselves in any way has to first of all come from within us, and not from myriad outside influences.
The truth is we need to get to know ourselves better, to listen to the wisdom of our body, get curious and believe that the answers are within us somewhere, often in a place that we cannot currently reach, but in there somewhere, ready to be born. This is where the good work begins.

Pleasure+healsBody image issues, weight that won’t budge despite healthy eating and exercise, numbing behaviours such as binge and compulsive eating all point to something else going on within, which our body is trying to alert us to in some way.
So a good way to look at these situations cropping up is to think of them as a doorway, that is opening up and letting us into the place where our needs, values and so much else live.
We can try as hard as we like with every new fad diet or exercise plan on this earth in a misguided attempt to reach our ‘ideal’, but without inner shifts, tapping into our wisdom, gaining new perspectives, looking deeply into what we really want and why, we keep getting thrown off the path. The path that will lead us to accepting ourselves and loving ourselves and being able to shape our lives in the way we know deep down that we want to.

Here are some first steps to self love and self acceptance:  

1.Slow down
This is one of the most essential components to realising what it is that you really ‘need’.
Slowing down allows you the space and time to tap into your inner resources and wisdom to find out what your true needs are.
Taking life at a slower pace allows you to reconnect with your self.
Action step:
Consciously slow down whilst eating, sit down and take twice as long with each bite of food and notice how it feels in your body. With this increased awareness you can begin to distinguish which foods help you to feel energetic and nourished and which makes you feel heavy and sluggish, anxious or lethargic. You will be able to more clearly pick up your body’s signal of fullness and hear the wisdom of your body.
Slow down also in your walking pace, your rate of talking and take long slow breaths.
See how this makes you feel.

2.Pleasure:
True pleasure and fun is often missing in our lives if we are disconnected with self and we often have a hard time loving ourselves.
Pleasure is an essential part of a happy and well lived life, our body yearns for it, our soul thrives on it, yet often we feel we do not deserve it.
Action step:
Take some time to remember what makes you happy, what creativity you could bring back into your life, what new skill you might want to learn. Experiment and play and make time for it, acknowledging that you are loving and caring for your self by making these choices to reconnect with what brings you real pleasure. Be compassionate.

3.Touch and sensuality:
As human beings we need touch and sensuality in our lives to feel truly alive. Look at ways you can do this for yourself as well as getting more hugs and intimacy from others.
Action step:
When you are in the shower or getting dressed, slow down the process, be present and aware of your body, your stance, your breathing, your movement and touch your skin, how does this feel? Choose your most beautiful clothes to wear.
Let the water from your shower rain down on you whilst you close your eyes and breathe slowly, note how this makes you feel within and how the water feels on your skin.
Ask your body how it feels, notice what happens inside when you touch your skin, brush your hair slowly, massage your scalp or your shoulders. What emotions and feelings does this bring up for you?Drink in and embrace these moments with your body and your self, and if negative thoughts about your body come up from your inner critic, tell it ’thank you for your comment but I choose to believe something different now’
This practice helps us begin to regain our power and to live from our deepest choices and needs.

Mirror work:
This can be another very useful introduction to getting to know and love your self and your body by introducing a loving kindness to your feelings when you look in the mirror.Be+aware+of+the+thoughts+you+think.+They+create+your+metabolic+reality
Action step:
Look in the mirror with some or no clothes on, whatever feels comfortable to start with. Breathe.
Embrace what is great about your body, or if that’s difficult, focus on one part that you already have good feelings about.
Notice what comes up, be aware and let those thoughts/feelings be there but not pulling you into the old story around them. If your inner critic pops up, acknowledge it with love and care, it may have served a purpose in the past but question what it is doing for you right now.
This is courageous work, and for some people it feels very difficult at first, keep practicing and talking to your self gently and lovingly in the mirror day by day.

Come ‘home’ to yourself:
For me this is the most important tool of all.
We spend so much time looking outwards for the answers when in reality, every time we are doing this we are ‘leaving home ‘ or leaving our self.
Our wisdom is within, not out there.
Coming home means realigning with our self, here and now in this moment and starting to understand ourselves better, what our needs are, to be our own best friend. To be present, here and now.
Action step:
Give yourself time, every day to sit alone for a short time, to breathe and connect with your inner wisdom.
You may want to journal your thoughts and feelings at the beginning of every day then look at any patterns, what keeps coming up? Start investigating with curiosity and compassion.
Be your own best friend, listen to what is going on within, what your body is telling you. Above all, be curious to what might be waiting to come out.
When a thought or feeling comes up ask “what is this?” and let it be.
Feel where in your body these feelings are coming from and, with this awareness, be curious about why it is there, what it’s trying to tell you and what it’s purpose might be. Be patient. No need to force or get frustrated, the answers will come when they are ready and you will feel a shift. A shift in perspective, a shift in energy, a shift in emotion, a shift in clarity, and you will know that you are home, in deep connection with and in deep love with yourself.

Self-Love-sandThis is where the magic happens. Having these private internal conversations with ourselves helps to get to the root of what might be behind our tendency to self judge and lead to behaviours such as over eating, binge eating and related behaviours that take us ‘away from home’ seeking answers externally, when in reality everything we ever need to know is right here inside of each and everyone of us.
When we experience this, life purpose becomes clearer, intentions become clearer, there is more energy and motivation and a calmness exudes.
Think of your self as the sun, what parts of you are not allowing you to see your sun?
From this inner awareness you can begin to create the life you have always wanted and as a by product of being in alignment, body image improves, any weight you were inadvertently holding onto seems to be easier to release and you have a renewed confidence and sense of self.

I’d like to leave you with a poem by Derek Walcott that feels beautifully aligned with this topic of self love and body image.

Love after Love
The time will come when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart to itself,
To the stranger who has loved you
all your life,
whom you ignored for another.
Who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.
Feast on your life.

If you have enjoyed this post and would like further information about my work or to book a free discovery coaching session, please email me or message me via my Facebook page

With love,

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Meditation

Nourishing ourselves is about more than making sure we eat healthy food and exercise regularly, the mind and soul element is equally important and we often neglect this.
To experience full health and wellbeing this often ignored part of ourselves needs to be nurtured also.images

Meditation has got a lot of press in the past few years and rightly so as it is a proven method of getting in touch with our inner selves, feeling grounded, working out what really matters in our lives and taking action on that to formulate the life we really want.
Thousands of studies have echoed meditation’s therapeutic value for ourselves, the people around us and our community and world in general.

One of the big stumbling blocks with getting a meditation practice started is that we feel we don’t have the time. In our busy lives, taking precious moments out to focus on working on what we are thinking and why, the feelings and emotions we are experiencing and what loops of negativity we are getting trapped in, is not on our radar. So the situation does not change, it does not improve and month by month we get stuck in the same old habits and limiting beliefs, stuck in a neural rut.

When we haven’t got much time but still would like to benefit from centring ourselves, feeling calmer and starting to look inwards rather than outward for solutions, doing scaled-down versions of practices can really help, here are a few ways you can do that:

  • meditating for 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes
  • beginning a journal of thoughts and feelings
  • lowering expectations of what you can achieve in your day, write a list of what you want to achieve then cut it down by 50% to the absolute priorities
  • treating yourself with kindness and compassion – self love, always a good idea, but particularly important during challenging times when we tend to spiral off into old patterns of dealing with things

There are many excellent sources of different meditation practices available online, youtube and on phone and tablet apps.

Some of my current favourites are as follows:

The Headspace App is a great place to start your meditation practice, download it free on your phone and you get “Take 10” which is 10 meditation practices totally free, all very well explained and very down to earth in approach.
If you like the free meditations you can sign up and pay for the whole package and you will never be without 15 – 30 mins of guided meditation available to you wherever you are.meditation

For mediation with a spiritual element try Tara Brach, here is a link to her pdf on how to meditate
She has videos on You Tube and is also a regular teacher on the Dharma Seed App, which is a fabulous resource on Buddhist teachings, a variety of different meditation practices and an all round resource for keeping your mind calm and learning new strategies for centring and tapping into your inner wisdom.

Another great resource is Pedram Shojai, otherwise known as ‘The Urban Monk” , his new book of the same title has just come out click here for more info. it is a no fuss take on meditation especially suited to fit into busy urban lives.
Here are a few areas covered in his book:
Rejuvenating practices for health and longevity
Tools and exercises for life mastery
Techniques for discharging stuck energy
How to create a sense of calm in a chaotic world
Insights for living with an open heart and a sharp mind
Meditative practices for modern times.

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There are many other resources out there, experiment and see what works for you.

If you would like further information on meditation or are interested in the possibility of coaching and how that might help you, send me a message and we can set up a time for a free 20 min discovery session to see if we are a good fit to work together.

With love

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Why low carb diets may be useful

We’ve all heard the low carb argument over and over, in many articles, some more accurate than others. There is a lot of confusion out there about what it actually means.

Here is what I feel is a good and well researched explanation about why it may be better for most of us to be eating more good fats (emphasis on the ‘good’), moderate protein and low carbohydrates (mainly veg and some fruit). Click below to read Dr Mercola’s article.

Why low carb diets may be useful

Remember we are all individual, find the way of eating that works for you and your health. Eating well is a great start but it is often only part of the puzzle!natural-and-heatlhy-food

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Sleep, daylight anchoring and its effects on memory and obesity

photo - sleeping-woman-141202Sleep is a hugely important component of  health and wellness. The quality and length of our sleep has a big impact on our overall functioning and affects every cell in our bodies. Allowing enough time for sleep and making sure we have a regular sleep ritual that works for us in terms of relaxing before bed, is truly something we can nourish ourselves with.

Here is an interesting and in-depth interview with Dan Pardi, regarding the neurobiology of sleep and its benefits for health and wellness. Please click the link below:

Sleep, daytime anchoring and its effects on memory and obesity

Download my  Tips for a good night’s sleep

Best wishes

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The Hunger Mood

The Mind/Body Nutrition and Eating Psychology approach tackles weight issues, disordered eating, binge eating and so on by looking at the root causes for the problems rather than focusing solely on diets and dietary theories – which are more often than not only part of the picture.If+you+think+food+is+your+problem,+then+it’s+time+to+dig+deeper

Without delving more deeply, it is often difficult to improve the particular eating or weight issue sustainably.

One of the areas many people have problems with is their hunger cues, thinking of it as merely a physiological process out of their control and that they have no ‘willpower’, when in fact there is a huge psychological element to it that has nothing to do with willpower.
Understanding this can help to create long term improvements especially regarding weight issues.

Below is an interesting article written by Michael Graziano, a neuroscientist who is Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University, USA. He explains how hunger is determined largely by our psyche. Click on the link below to view.

The Hunger Mood

Hope you enjoy reading it!

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Chia and Flaxseed Loaf

A great, gluten free recipe packed with protein and good fats!
Recipe taken from www.supercharged.com

Chia and Flaxseed Loaf
Makes one delicious loaf!

Chia-and-Flaxseed-Loaf
Ingredients
350 g (12 oz/21/3 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour
30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) ground flaxseeds
20 g (3/4 oz/1/4 cup) chia seeds
115 g (4 oz/3/4 cup) mixed sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 organic eggs
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
80 ml(21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) tablespoons additive-free coconut milk
6 drops stevia liquid
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) filtered water
Method
Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F) and grease and flour a 20 x 9 cm (8 x 31/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.
Combine the flour, flaxseed, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs for about 2 minutes – they should be pale and fluffy.
Stir in the apple cider vinegar, butter, coconut milk, stevia and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
This loaf will keep for one week in the fridge or two months in the freezer.

Hope you enjoy it!

Signature3

Is coconut water really good for you?

Coconut-Water-HeaderThe following article is taken from Dr Josh Axe website www.draxe.com and is very good information on coconut water, hope you enjoy reading it!
Coconut water is popping up everywhere in a variety of healthy beverages and you may be curious if it really lives up to the hype surrounding it. Do the benefits stand up to its actual nutritional value? Is coconut water good for you?

What is coconut water?
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut which is usually about the size of a basketball. Ideally, young coconuts are harvested at 5-7 months of age, to contain the most water.As the coconut matures, the liquid is replaced with coconut “meat”. The greatest nutrient health benefits of coconut water comes from drinking the water of the young coconut, not the mature coconut milk, which is generally lower in nutrients.
Coconut water has been consumed for centuries in tropical countries and is believed to treat a variety of health-related ailments. In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “kalpa vriksha” which means “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”.

In certain emergency situations, coconut water has been used for IV hydration due to its high electrolyte content and the fact that it is sterile if used directly from the inside of the coconut. People all over the world enjoy coconut water for its multiple benefits and sweet taste.
Recently, coconut water’s health benefits continue to be touted, as many marketers call it “nature’s sports drink” and a “life enhancer”. But, are the claims that coconut water is good for you really true?

Coconut Water Nutrition Facts:
The liquid inside the coconut contains approximately 46 calories per cup, 10 grams of natural sugar, with little protein and it is fat free! It contains multiple vitamins, minerals, and phytochemcials that are ideal for human health. (1)
The primary nutrient in coconut water is potassium. It contains approximately 600 mg (12% DV) making it a high electrolyte beverage. Coconut water also contains a small amount of sodium, about 40mg and up to 10% of your daily calcium and magnesium needs. (2)
Electrolytes are critical to maintain blood volume, heart health, and well as to prevent dehydration. Maintaining electrolyte levels can help reduce fatigue, stress, and help maintain muscle relaxation.

Coconut Water Nutrition:

Coconut-Water-Nutrition

There has also been some interesting research regarding the cytokinin content of coconut water which in the future may show some anti-cancer properties. Cytokinins are naturally occurring plant hormones that may help reduce the growth of cancer cells, although more research is needed at this time. (3)

With these nutrition benefits is coconut water good for you? The answer is yes! If you really like the flavor, it can be a low-calorie, low-sugar alternative to soda. It is pretty refreshing to consume on a hot day, to help re-hydrate.

Other health benefits of coconut water include:
Lowered blood pressure
Weight loss
Increased athletic performance
Boosted energy
Lowered cholesterol
Reduced cellulite
Relax muscle tension
Coconut water is a safe, healthy beverage for most people. Those with kidney disease should limit consumption foods that are too high in potassium, including coconut water. Now let’s explore the research and science-backed benefits of coconut water.

Health Benefits of Coconut Water
1. Electrolyte Replacement: Coconut Water vs. Gatorade
Because coconut water is high in potassium, and such a great electrolyte replacement, it has even been used for IV hydration in certain emergency situations. (4)

coconut water in a glass

It is also lower in carbohydrates compared to other sports drinks. Coconut water is only about 4.5% carbohydrates whereas other sports drinks can contain 6-8% carbohydrate concentration. This is good for athletes trying to watch their sugar intake and hydrate after an event. For most casual exercisers coconut water is a great low-sugar hydration choice for after a workout.

A 2002 study, compared water, coconut water, and standard sports beverages to determine which beverage was best for post-exercise hydration. The eight subjects exercised in the heat and then were rehydrated with either water, coconut water, or a sports drink.
Researchers found that there was no difference in sodium levels, urine output, or fluid balance between the three beverages, meaning all three beverages were equally hydrating. But, there was significantly less nausea or fullness with the coconut water allowing the participants to drink more of the beverage. (5)
Overall, coconut water can be an alternative to sports drinks, but it may depend on the type of sport and the intensity. Some long-distance endurance athletes may need more specialized products that contain more sodium and carbohydrates. But, for most casual exercisers, coconut water is a great option.

2. Lower blood pressure
A 2005 study found that when subjects were given coconut water for two weeks, their systolic blood pressure was 71% lower and diastolic blood pressure 29% lower than those who drank plain water.
The high potassium content of coconut water has led researchers to investigate the potential benefits for reducing cardiovascular disease risk.
Potassium counteracts the effect of sodium in the body, helping lower blood pressure. (6, 7)

3. Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
A 2006 study found that rats given coconut water had a decreased chance of having a heart attack. The coconut water helped decrease their total cholesterol triglyceride levels, and LDL cholesterol, specifically the cholesterol found in the heart.
Additionally, the health benefits of coconut water helped the rats recover faster if they did have a heart attack. Researchers believe that the benefit may be related to the potassium, calcium, and magnesium content in the water, all electrolytes that play a role in helping maintain heart health. (8, 9)

4. Cleansing / Detox
Our bodies have an amazing natural ability to cleanse and detox on their own, if provided with the correct nutrients and hydration. Inadequate hydration leads to the build-up of toxins in our bodies because the liver and kidneys, the detoxifying organs, are unable to function properly without adequate water.
Dehydration resulting from water or electrolyte loss leads to fatigue, irritability, confusion, and extreme thirst. These symptoms result from the inability for the kidney to adequately flush toxins out of the system. Adequate fluid intake, ideally 8-10 cups per day, can help prevent dehydration and maintain the body’s natural detoxification ability. Although water is great, during very hot weather or strenuous exercise, more than just plain water may be necessary.
Coconut water contains a similar electrolyte profile to human blood, making it an ideal beverage to replace fluids and help remove toxins from the body. The electrolyte potassium, specifically, can help counteract some of the negative effects of a high sodium processed diet.

5. Reduce stress and muscle tension
It’s almost as good as a massage! Some of the electrolytes found in coconut water, specifically calcium and magnesium, may help with stress and muscle tension. Many of us are missing these critical minerals in our diets, making stress management even more challenging. Other than maintaining strong teeth and bones, calcium helps with smooth muscle relaxation. Adequate calcium intakes may help keep our all our muscles relaxed, including our heart muscle, lowering the risk of heart attacks. (10)
Magnesium has been nicknamed the “relaxation” mineral. Its primary function is in the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that helps us relax. It also helps with the formation of serotonin, the feel good hormone. (11)
Magnesium and calcium work together to help maintain muscle relaxation. Coconut water contains both of these minerals, so drink up on a stressful day to help you stay calm and stress-free.

Coconut Water vs. Coconut Milk:

Coconut-Water-vs.-Coconut-Milk

Many people confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Higher in fat and calories, coconut milk is extracted from the flesh of the coconut and is thicker, sweeter, and more dense. It also is packed with nutrition and healthy saturated fats, but it is also very high in calories. A cup of coconut milk is about 552 calories compared to a cup of coconut water which is only about 46 calories! Whew!

Coconut milk has many health benefits as it is a rich source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate, calcium and selenium.

Coconut Water vs. Coconut Milk
One note too, while it is high in fat it is important to remember that the medium chain fatty acids of the saturated fat in coconut oil and coconut milk are very good for you! They can be used by your brain without going through your digestive tract and so they are easily accessed by your body.
Because of its great taste and texture it is a great dairy substitute for baking and cooking!

The Best Coconut Water To Buy – Fresh Organic Coconut Water straight from the coconut! But not always available in its true form.
If available, look for coconut water in a fresh, green coconut, instead of the packaged variety, it may be difficult to open, but is really fun to drink! It also contains no added sugar, preservatives and is not pasteurized. It is the healthiest and most delicious choice by far.
Fresh coconuts are perishable and you may find them in the refrigerated section of health stores. If they are opened, the coconut water should be kept cold and consumed within 3-5 days.
If you cannot find a fresh, green coconut, your second best choice is cold pressured coconut water, which is only lightly processed via high pressure processing instead of heat. This exposes the coconut water to high pressure to eliminate bacteria, but maintains a greater level of vitamins and minerals. (12)
If coconut water does not need to be refrigerated, it usually means it has been pasteurized to maintain its freshness. During the pasteurization process, liquids are heated to a high temperature to kill any bacteria, but this also destroys many of the natural vitamins and minerals in the product.

Avoid coconut water that is from concentrate
Generally, if any fruit or vegetable is made into a concentrate, it loses nutrients in the process therefore it is always best to choose options that are not from concentrate.

In order to make coconut water more “flavourful” many companies are adding sweeteners or other flavours to coconuts. Many companies also use flavors to cover up the fact they are not using young coconuts in their coconut water, but instead are using mature coconuts that have a more bitter and acidic taste. (13)

Avoid coconut waters with added flavors or sugar. The primary ingredient should be 100% coconut water, there should not be any added fruit juices, natural or artificial ingredients, or anything that may indicate that the coconut water was modified in any way.

Ways to Enjoy Coconut Water
Combining Coconut Water with Probiotics
If you looking for a great way to boost your digestive and immune systems, then eating and drinking probiotic foods is the way to do it. And if you have a dairy sensitivity, then coconut kefir water is a great option!

Kefir is traditionally a cultured dairy product that is one of the most probiotic rich foods available. It has multiple health benefits due to its high probiotic content, for people with gastrointestinal issues as well as those who have been over prescribed antibiotics.
Traditionally, kefir has been made by adding kefir grains to dairy, such as milk. Kefir grains are not actual grains, but are small kernels that contain a specific balance of yeast and bacteria.
Although most people are generally able to tolerate kefir, even if they can’t tolerate dairy, some people may be sensitive to it or have a dairy allergy. Luckily, coconut water can also be made into kefir to help everyone reap the benefits from this amazing beverage.

 
Here is a great recipe for coconut water that you can make at home!coconut water kefir
Coconut Water Kefir Recipe
(Recipe adapted from Cultures for Health)
To make coconut water kefir, add:
1 quart coconut water
3 tablespoons water kefir grains
Optional: 1 cup fresh fruit of your choice
Directions:
Activate grains by using sugar water first. Generally, this is done by adding ¼ cup sugar to 1 quart water and adding the grains and soaking for 24-48 hours.
Once the grains are activated in sugar water, you can then use them with coconut water.
Place the kefir grains in the coconut water into a large jar with a lid. Cover the jar and allow it to sit for 24-48 hours.
Remove the grains before drinking.
To add fruit, blend the coconut kefir and the fruit in a blender.
You can continue to reuse the grains if you refresh them in sugar water between uses.

Super Hydrator Drink
If coconut water alone is too plain for you, try mixing it with other fruit juices. Here is a recipe for my Super Hydrator Juice drink that contains coconut water as well as other fruit and vegetable juices for optimal hydration.
Ingredients:
4 ounces coconut water
4 celery stalks
1 whole cucumber
1 peeled lime
Directions:
Add all ingredients together into a juicer. Gently stir and drink immediately.

Coconut water has so many amazing health benefits, consider adding it to your daily routine as a beverage for ultimate hydration. It should not replace plain water, but it can be a great alternative to other beverages that is low in sugar and calories.
Be careful when buying commercial coconut water brands as many can lack the nutrients found in the natural water. Many brands have a significant amount of added sugar or preservatives that can modify the health benefits of this amazing treat. When buying store bought coconut water the brand I personally consume is harmless harvest coconut water.

Coconut water is good for you, it has multiple health benefits and may be cardio-protective as well as help prevent cancer and other diseases. So drink up! www.draxe.com

coconut burst open

6 ways to reduce your sugar intake and still enjoy all the traditional Christmas fayre

Dr Sara Gottfried always has great advice on hormones, health and how best to manage stress, here she talks about avoiding too much sugar during the festive season
Check out this link to see what she says in BeMore magazine this December.
430049-Eat less sugar BeMore DecemberTRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FOOD