Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolution With Mindful Eating

Accomplish Your New Years Resolution With Mindful Eating

I love what Geneen Roth has to say about our relationship with food and how it reflects our relationship with ourselves.  In my over thirty years as a clinical nutritionist, I have observed, like Geneen, that we feed ourselves the same way we live our lives. The way of mindful eating is that our eating patterns and nutrition, like adaptation and survival, are critical components of our ability to live and thrive. Accomplish your New Year’s resolution, such as improving your health or losing weight, with mindful eating.

The Source Of The Challenge

In spite of the fact that the food we eat has such a significant impact on our whole being and quality of life, most of us are wildly confused about nutrition. This is especially true today because this basic necessity has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry, selling us foods and nutrition related goods our parents didn’t need or know about. 

“In the old days”, food was produced more naturally with less processing, lifestyles were less complicated and decidedly less stressful.  Remember how we said we would never grow up to be like our parents? We may want to rethink that – they are the healthiest and wealthiest generation ever!  Nutrition has become a big health issue because of poor quality food, soaring stress levels and our lack of exercise.  “The balanced diet” –the tried and true standard for good nutrition has been pushed aside for every conceivable variation on what and how to eat.

Some of this new information is quite useful and lots of it appeals to our vanity or desire to avoid taking the long look at what Geneen Roth refers to as “being present to our food and our lives.” If we are present, we realize that moderation and balance (just like with stress!) is the way to go.  Our foods are chemicals and can affect our emotions as well as our bodies.

A Grainy Example

An example of this is excess grain consumption. Human beings do not produce enzymes to break down cellulose, the outer protective layer of grain.  Many animals like cows and horses can eat grain in its natural state without a problem. If we attempted that, we would injure our mouths and esophagus, so we alter the grain from its natural state to flour, in order to consume it.  We think we can eat whatever, so we get creative and bake, fry, boil, etc. this processed grain into “food.” 

Unfortunately, the majority of us do not tolerate the protein gluten found in most grains.  Gluten can damage and weaken the lining of our gut, leading to all kinds of problems, which can include eating disorders, obesity and depression. Humans are also the only mammals that continue to consume milk after weaning, and it’s breast milk from another species at that. 

When we are experiencing mindful eating, we become aware of our body’s responses to what we put into it.  That requires slowing down, which is what our nervous systems have to do for our digestion to work properly. Stress is “anti-nutritious” because during stress our ability to deal with the “emergency” at hand.  Stress also significantly increases the need for certain nutrients, which are critical for the stress response. Protein, Vitamins A, B, C, and E, unsaturated fatty acids and minerals need to be replenished.

Moving Forward Mindfully

How we can improve our nutrition and discern what is best for us? We can observe why and how we eat, what feedback our bodies give us and consider the always prudent common sense approach of balance and moderation.  We are living beings, we need to eat living food.  The good news is you can eat all the fruits, vegetables, salads, veggie soups and stews you want (barring allergies) and you can’t go wrong!

 

For more whole health discussions like this, listen to my weekly radio show Living Above The Drama available on iHeartRadio.

 

 

What Causes The Cycle of Emotional Eating?

What Causes The Cycle of Emotional Eating?

Thanks to the work of M.I.T. professor Judith Wurtman, PhD, and others we now understand the significant role that a neurotransmitter or "chemical messenger" called serotonin plays in producing our cravings for complex carbohydrates and sugars, two of the largest contributors to unhealthy weight gain.

Serotonin and other neurotransmitters are produced by our bodies as "feel good" hormones. Under stress, we do not have enough of these hormones and we become motivated to "self-soothe" by behaviors that lead to the increase in serotonin. Overeating carbohydrates and fatty rich foods or "comfort foods" such as cookies, ice cream, and other "treats" significantly increases these hormones. Many addictions such as smoking, drinking alcohol and abusing drugs are also attempts to self soothe and increase serotonin, but no other addictive or unhealthy behavior is as socially accepted and as easily available as overeating. We can do it anywhere, anytime, alone or with company. It is no wonder we have such a love affair with eating.

In addition, the body’s need for certain nutrients, specifically protein, Vitamins A, C and E, unsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol and minerals skyrockets when we are "adapting" under stress. Often, if we do not stop the stress cycle or appropriately supplement these vital nutrients, we can turn to overeating to satisfy the body's demand for the fuel it needs to keep dealing with the stress we are experiencing.

For a period of time, foods that comfort, soothe or supplement can make us feel calmer until our level of serotonin drops again or until we become more exhausted and need to feed ourselves once more. Then we start the cycle all over and consume more carbohydrates and rich, fatty food to stabilize our blood sugar level and brain function until we feel better again.

This is the cycle of self-medication or self-soothing practiced in homes, offices, restaurants, automobiles and yes, even in bathrooms across America. The long-term effect of such behaviors, apart from obesity and escalating chronic diseases, is that our nervous systems are being hyper-stimulated. Anxiety, exhaustion, depression, overeating and insomnia are just a few of the symptoms we experience when our nervous systems are working on overload.

As a result, it is no wonder that within the last few years, low carbohydrate diets have proven effective for so many people. Approximately 20% of Americans, or 20 million people, are currently on low carbohydrate diets. For many of us, our stress level is a major factor in the over-consumption of carbohydrates; therefore reducing or eating normal amounts of carbohydrates is spawning weight loss. However, this is the real issue: How long can we reduce our carbohydrate loading without reducing our stress levels and the behaviors that create elevated stress in the first place?

For more whole health discussions like this, listen to my weekly radio show Living Above The Drama available on iHeartRadio.

Being Thankful Heals The Heart

giving thanks heals the heart

What a wonderful gift Thanksgiving, a day for giving and expressing thanks, is for all of us. Anyone and everyone can participate in this day of gathering family and friends to share food and well wishes, taking time to reflect on the things we have been blessed with and are thankful for. This giving thanks heals the heart.

Giving thanks is a healing and healthy act that many of us have sadly reserved for this one special time of the year. Ignatius, the renowned scholar and saint, offers us a powerful insight into the nature of why we suffer – and as it happens, it relates to giving thanks.

Ignatius said that “all suffering starts with ingratitude.” When we lose our appreciation for all that we have and the many blessings each of our lives is bestowed with, we begin to seek, want and covet what others have been blessed with. We put our own gifts aside, much like children do when they see their friend’s or sibling’s shiny new toy.

This gratitude opens the heart and removes “stress” that comes from fear of not having:

– Everything that we want

– Everything that we think we need

– What we see others have

– What we think is due us

– What we believe will make us happy

– What we believe will make us important or loved

Giving thanks for what we have, rather than wanting and longing for things we do not have, is a simple act of love that fills us with the humble pleasure of realizing how the universe cares for us – and is taking care of us.

Even when things are difficult and we are suffering, when we take the time to reflect on all the good things we also have in our lives, we suffer less, worry less and feel happier. This can stimulate real, holistic healing—the cornerstone of whole health. The spirit is healed when we release the resentments we carry. The body is healed when stress is reduced, stress that puts strain on the heart.

Perhaps Ignatius is on to something very holistic when he encourages us to remember the biblical wisdom found in I Thessalonians 5: 18 that recommends to us – “in all things give thanks.” For in this we will find our hearts full and our fears dissolved.

Happy Thanksgiving Holiday Season.

With all good wishes,

Georgianna

 

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Research Reveals The Purpose Of Your Emotions

research reveals purpose of emotions

Most of us perceive the brain as being for thinking, or intellectual functions. We often think of ourselves, our personality, as what is going on in those intellectual functions from the neck up. In fact, there are several parts to our brain that contribute to who we are and how we form our personality, not just our intellectual cortex. In this way, the purpose/role of emotions is far more complex than meets the eye.

The cortex is what we refer to as our smart brain. Most of us know individuals who are brilliant academically or intellectually, yet they can be emotionally dysfunctional almost in the extreme. We often presume erroneously that our thinking brain should be “smart” enough to exercise dominion over our emotions.

However, the missing piece of information here is that our emotions actually are a survival adaptation mechanism that each of us develops as we process our early environment and social conditioning.

Aggressive Or Passive?
Some of us learn to be assertive or aggressive in our environments to adapt, and some of us learn to become passive or try to become invisible to stay safe and secure. Nothing is more powerful in the human being than the drive to survive. Hence, our emotions win in the battle between thinking and feeling.

It is helpful to understand that our emotions represent how we learned to adapt in our surroundings and environment, especially during the first five years of our development. Our familial input taught us, as it did Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, how to respond to the stimuli we received as infants and toddlers.

Embedded Conditioning
This embedded neurological conditioning is not overcome by thought processes; the thought process for humans is the newest component to our primitive, or primordial, brain. But it is in the survival adaptive portion of our brain that we form our personality and that we become conditioned to create and interact within relationships.

You have to understand that the interpersonal issues that can frustrate you may come from your drive to survive and the conditioned responses to the stimulation and environment you have experienced. They do not stem from a desire to be difficult or bad intent. Realize this and you can begin to be kinder and gentler toward yourself and others.

Our emotions are the way we learn to live and survive in our world. We cannot think them into changing, but we can step back and appreciate the service and challenge they offer us in our daily lives. We can also explore techniques that allow us to have greater control over our emotions. For a free chapter download on brain function and behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

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Establish These Three Behaviors To Improve Your Life

The most important relationship we have is with ourselves. The way we think, eat, behave and use our resources define the quality of life we live. We all want to thrive and enjoy a healthy fulfilling life. Yet, in our over scheduled, frenzied personal environments and ever encroaching culture, the simple, basic, no-cost behaviors that will better our lives and foster an excellent relationship with ourselves are often overlooked.

Here is a list of 3 simple behaviors any of us can do immediately to improve and restore our well-being and enhance our health.

1. Buy with Cash

Over the last 5 years, most of us have had a reality check regarding the corrosive nature of debt. It can cause stress, anxiety and sleepless nights, robbing us of our well-being and causing us to lose control over our relationship with money. One of the fastest and easiest ways of “turning the ship around” when it comes to debt is to commit to using only cash for purchases and cutting up the credit cards.

While we can have an emergency card or line of credit squirreled away for a real emergency, by reining in our spending habits and eliminating debt, we can do more for our sense of well-being and health than following the latest health trends and starting an exercise program. Yes, it’s true – reducing and eliminating the crushing stress of debt accumulation is the number one act of self-care we all need to commit to. Studies show that chronic stress and worry will make us sicker and even cause life threatening events such as stroke and heart attack more so than any other lifestyle behavior.

Also, by paying in cash you are more aware of what you are actually spending and have the opportunity to ask yourself: “Do I really need to make this purchase?”

2. Clean out Your Closets

In our consumer-driven environment, we are invited daily to buy, buy, buy and can find ourselves living with closets, attics and basements overflowing with “stuff.” Much of this stuff we do not even use and may not even remember we have.

One of the most satisfying experiences is to clean out closets, drawers, basements, attics, garages, storage areas, and so forth. Thin out all the excess material possessions we have and do not need or use. Giving things away to the local “swap shop” or donating these unnecessary belongings to Goodwill or the Salvation Army will not only free up room and space in our homes, but will also provide a greater sense of control over your living space as well as provide a sense of orderliness and cleanliness – all good things for our health and happiness.

3. Post Your Life Goals and Affirmations

We all have goals and dreams we want to realize. One of the fastest, proven ways to achieve those goals and manifest our dreams is to write them down and post them throughout our whole working and living environments. Take the most urgent and important goal you have at this time and focus on it daily, using post-its or other reminders of what you want to manifest.

This no cost, proven method for creating the things we want in our lives can become an excellent life-long behavior. When one goal is realized or achieved, we can identify the next important goal and work on that specifically, using our desire and unconscious mind to manifest our dreams. After all, thoughts really are “things.” By repeatedly thinking on something, we can create it into reality.

Everything was a thought before it became a reality – the chair you are sitting on was a thought in someone’s mind before it was created. We can and do create our lives with our thoughts – so post away and realize your goals.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.ChangingBehavior.org

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Take The First Step Towards Happiness

Take The First Step Towards Happiness

With such a strong emphasis on achievement, accumulation and recognition in our society, it is easy to become discouraged or disappointed with who or what we perceive ourselves to be, especially in how we stack up in the “pecking order” with those around us. Being happy with yourself is a choice that each of us can make every day by taking simple, practical steps to develop habits of happiness.

Take the first step towards happiness right now. It starts with creating an environment to work and live in that reduces stress and workload and brings order and ease, making your work and living easier. This uplifting environment can also provide the experience of soothing tranquility rather than focusing on the disorder and chaos that often become the working and living environments we find ourselves in.

Start With A Clean Slate

Clean out your desk drawers and closets, discarding excess. Redefining what is important to keep and what feels good to get rid of is a first step to creating a peaceful and happy living or working space. Creating an environment that truly resonates with your values is like building an oasis in the desert. By eliminating the need to accumulate more and more “things” around us, we can unburden ourselves and have a more orderly, relaxing and peaceful space to live and work in.

Review Your “Friends List” Too

This same philosophy can be applied to your circle of friends and acquaintances. Just like with material things, we can also accumulate unnecessary or unwanted relationships that can make demands on our time and energy and often insert negativity or sap our physical or financial resources. Clearing out the toxic or unhealthy relationships we may have can bring personal renewal and further our sense of happiness and contentment.

Embrace Family

Take the time to appreciate family. For most of us there are few individuals who have done more for us than our family members. This includes the people in our family who support us, are there when we need them and provide a “safe harbor” throughout our lives.

Losing loving family members can be devastating but no more so than when we fail to appreciate them as they are helping us along life’s bumpy road. Take the time to give back and express your gratitude to those who care and nurture. Not only will this bring them pleasure and a sense of being appreciated, but it will become a reminder of how loved and cared for we are. That allows us to feel more content and happy with being who we are.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.ChangingBehavior.org

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health

Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Learn The Surprising Way That Food Affects Your Mood

Did you know that what you eat affects your mood? It's interesting that the emphasis is usually on how things from the outside of us affect our insides. In reality so much of what is going on inside of us affects our outsides. That’s right, our mood and our food are intimately connected.

This is really evident in terms of weight loss and weight gain. The way we feel about ourselves, work, life, if we are fulfilled or dissatisfied, has more to do with what or how much we choose to eat than how eating a food has to do with how it "makes us feel." Our food decisions are often linked to our level of emotional wellness.

One of the reasons diets don't work is because the "work" is being done on the outside of the problem instead of the inside. I have been a nutritionist for over 30 years and have seen tens of thousands of patients who want to change the way they look or the way they eat.

When we start to "work" on the goal, within a relatively short period of time, they become aware that there are underlying feelings and emotions associated with not eating foods that help them to "medicate" or mask their feelings.

They often become discouraged because the feelings are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It is our human nature to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. It takes courage to truly tackle and confront the underlying issues of "food and mood," rather than focusing on the outside of the problem, to focus on the inside instead.

Here is an exercise you may find to be of value. If you are dealing with mood or food issues, keep a journal for 10 days. Write down everything you eat and how you feel when you don’t eat what you want, as well as how you feel when you DO eat what you want.

Just becoming more aware of what you are putting in your mouth and how it translates to how you feel after you eat a particular food, can be the start of a healthier and happier relationship with food and your mood. Before you take your next bite, consider whether you are feeding your stomach, your mood, or both.

 

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Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt To Stress

Your Adrenal Glands And Their Amazing Ability To Adapt 

The ability for a human being to adapt to its environment and to deal with the many ongoing and changes it faces is the hallmark of a healthy body. That we can withstand day to day events that challenge our nervous system, and subsequently our immune system, is a reflection that our body is working very efficiently. This all comes back to your adrenal glands and their ability to adapt.

Understanding the connection between how events affect our stress adaptation system, primarily the adrenal glands, and how the adrenal's hyper-secretions under stress can create havoc with the digestive and immune systems is important. This allows us to make informed lifestyle choices that will preserve and respect our body and our long term health.

Variations In Stress

Most of us do not know what stressors are. We tend towards the idea that emotional upset is what constitutes stress. However, there are 12 major categories of stress that can impact our body and health. Unfortunately, we are subject to these stressors on a regular basis.

A stressor is any activity or event that requires the body to change or adapt in order to maintain its homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, it becomes essential to know the factors we must be mindful of in order to keep our stress levels in check.

Below is a list of the stressors to be aware of in your day to day life:

  • Weather (exposure to hot or cold)
  • Sleep and Rest (specifically, not getting enough)
  • Infection or Silent Inflammation  
  • Allergies (all types)
  • Dental or Medical Procedures and Surgeries
  • Reproduction  (for women: menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause)
  • Sexual Activity
  • Nutrition  (too many calories or non-nutritious food) 
  • Exertion and Exercise (too much or not enough)
  • Trauma (any form)
  • Fear, Anxiety, Worry  (ongoing)
  • Loss or grief

By keeping your stress level low, you will reduce wear and tear on your body parts that, in the long term, can lead to chronic illness and disease. It is not the stress itself that makes you sick, but the ongoing wear on the body that causes dysfunction and dis-ease.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Life

There are many ways to reduce stress and maintain a balanced nervous system. While the list is endless here are some of the most popular ways to do so: (1) Exercise regularly. (2) Listen to soothing music. (3) Practice Yoga. (4) Participate in sports. (5) Tend a garden.

Each person finds their best way to relax and de-stress. It is something we all need to do on a regular basis to balance or nervous systems and stay healthy!

 

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Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Susannah Conway, author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, said it best when she wrote, “Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything.” But what does a healthy relationship with ourselves look like? And how can we develop a good relationship with ourselves if we are unsure of what that is or what that looks like?

A good relationship with ourselves would look the same way a good relationship with anyone looks. It entails respect, kindness, awareness, fulfillment, having needs met, friendship and creating stress-free memories.Here are some ways that we can cultivate a good relationship with ourselves that will influence the relationships we have with others.

Start With Self-Care
We need to look after our physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual needs to nourish ourselves on many level. Focusing on caring for ourselves in this most basic way establishes self-respect and healthy habits. It also sends a message of self-love to ourselves, which is the most important component of caring for oneself.

Make Time For What Is Important To You
If you feel good taking time for your first cup of coffee or browsing the bookstore to find a perfect book that uplifts or entertains you, be sure to take the time on a regular basis to give this gift to yourself and brighten your day. Whatever your favorite soothing activity is, be sure to carve out space in your schedule to allow such experiences.

Identify And Set Boundaries
The boundaries we establish for ourselves will have a great impact on the boundaries we set in our relationships. By not allowing ourselves to work too hard, play too little and spend too much, we will be looking out for ourselves as well as identifying appropriate ways to interact with others. Moderation in how we live and avoiding extremes is an ideal way to be centered and stay in that healthy zone.

Be Your Best Friend
Because a relationship with ourselves is the only relationship we can depend on having every single day of our lives, it is most important that we are our own best friends. By developing a positive, nurturing and loving relationship with the most important aspect of our lives (that is, ourselves), we build a strong foundation for all other relationships that follow.

It is often said that we continually repeat the relationship we develop with ourselves with all the other relationships we have in our lives, so it is essential that it is a caring, respectful and nourishing one.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

 

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!

 

Can One Drink a Day Increase Your Cancer Risk?

By now, everyone has heard about the benefits of red wine — that it’s packed with heart-healthy antioxidants and resveratrol, which may reduce bad cholesterol and help prevent blood clots [1]. But, as doctors have long known, there is another alcohol and cancer link. Namely, drinking alcohol is associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.

The Research

The Million Women study followed the behaviors, lifestyles and reproductive habits of women over the course of a seven-year period. It found that 13 percent of certain cancers were linked to alcohol use [2]. Women who were heavy drinkers were more likely to be affected. The cancers linked to alcohol use included: mouth, throat, esophageal, breast, liver and rectal.

Certain types of cancer are more pervasive depending on one’s alcohol habits. For example, mouth cancer affects up to 70 percent of heavy alcohol drinkers. Those imbibing five or more alcoholic drinks per day are more likely to suffer from cancers of the upper digestive tract. Three or more drinks per day can increase cancer risk by up to 41 percent in men. Two or more drinks per day increases the risk by 20 percent in women.

All Or Nothing

With news like this, it’s understandable that some people might rush to clear out their liquor cabinets and completely abstain from even “one more drink.” The key, however, is knowing that cancer deaths linked to alcohol overall is quite small — an estimated 2 to 4 percent. But it’s still worth noting that these deaths could have been prevented just by enjoying alcohol in moderation.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, doctors still acknowledge the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine. It appears to be good for the heart, and promising research has been done on the topic of resveratrol. However, the resveratrol studies have so far only been performed on mice — not humans [3]. To get the measured benefits of resveratrol noted in the studies, you would have to drink 15 gallons of red wine every day!

Is Red Really Best?

There are also noted benefits found in the alcohol itself, such as a 25-40 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease with moderate drinking [4]. These specific conditions include: peripheral vascular disease, ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot), sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular issues. Moderate amounts of alcohol also raise the body’s “good” cholesterol. There are additional social aspects, such as drinking with friends or a stress-relieving drink at the end of a hard day of work [5].

The specific type of alcohol involved in reducing cardiovascular risk does not seem to matter — beer, wine, vodka and other types all seem to bestow the same effects.

With this in mind, what are the best ways to drink in moderation safely?

  • Time Frame Matters: Someone who has 5-7 drinks on a Friday night might think they’re getting the same benefits as someone who has one drink a day (if they can think straight at all), but binging on alcohol can have the opposite effect, including liver and other organ damage. Spread your alcohol consumption over a longer time period rather than guzzling it all at once.
     
  • Drink With a Meal: Having food in your stomach slows the rate of alcohol absorption, which is why more people feel hungover after drinking on an empty stomach. Drinking before a meal may also aid digestion.
     
  • Know Your Risks: If you have a family history of breast cancer, for example, it’s probably not a good idea to hit the bottle often. Understand the genetic links between alcoholism and cancer as it applies to your unique makeup.
     
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your drinking habits. Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can interact with alcohol and lead to severe side effects. Tell your doctor how many drinks you have per day (on average) and ask whether or not this may affect the medicines you’re taking.

In Summary

Knowing the risks and benefits of drinking is about more than just issuing “one size fits all” advice. Your family history, genetic makeup and susceptibility to cancer and alcoholism should all play a role in your decision to drink.

Even your mental health (such as whether or not you’re suffering from depression) can upset the balance and lead to addiction. Other factors such as your gender, level of physical activity, smoking habits and so forth will also play a role in how much alcohol your body can realistically tolerate, and if the health payoff is truly worth it.

 

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