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Kick cravings into touch

Kick cravings into touch

Everyone gets cravings from time to time. Sometimes you kid yourself that it is your body telling you that you need to have something (and there is some truth in this – more on that later). Most of the time, however, it is habit. There are some simple steps you can take to manage cravings and avoid binges. Using a combination of these steps will be most effective and some techniques will work better than others for you, so it’s best to experiment.

“But I need it…’

Your body needs a steady flow of energy throughout the day. When you eat too many things that turn quickly into sugar (whether it’s sugar or starchy carbohydrates), this creates a blood sugar spike and the body produces insulin to take the excess sugar out of your blood, and it stores it as fat. Sometimes too much of this sugar is packed away, which leads to blood sugar levels becoming too low, resulting in tiredness, low mood, a drop in concentration – and cravings. The cravings are nearly always for sugary foods or starchy carbs; anything the body can quickly convert to sugar to get blood sugar levels up again. Eating continually in this way causes a blood sugar rollercoaster. Switching to a low GL (glycaemic load) diet based on whole foods like meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans and so on with vegetables and fruit, with smaller amounts of wholegrain starches like brown rice and wholemeal bread will help enormously. However, you also need to deal with your triggers and the emotional aspect of eating …

How to manage your cravings

1 Forget ‘willpower’

Willpower in itself is not enough. Instead, learn to be in control of your actions. The first, most simple step is to make sure you don’t get hungry, so eat regular meals.

2 Identify and write down your triggers

Are they emotional triggers? Food triggers? Habits? Triggers in certain places or situations? Identifying what your triggers are helps you take control of them and change the outcome. What is it that you need? What strategies can you put in place now to support yourself?

3 Get rid of your trigger foods

If you don’t have control of a food then it is controlling you. If it triggered a binge in the past, it will do so again. Get rid of it and don’t buy it – for you or your family. It’s OK to throw away food that is bad for you. A smoker wouldn’t keep packets of cigarettes around the house if they were trying to break the habit – why do that with trigger foods?

4 Plan what you are going to eat in advance

This is so important. Eventually, your healthy eating will become second nature, but you need to support yourself until your new habits are firmly in place.

5 Identify crave / binge thoughts

To take control, you need to be ready to respond to these with a more positive alternative. Here are some examples:

  • “I’m so stressed” – being miserable because I’m fatter won’t help.
  • “I had far too many biscuits, I may as well just keep going” – that’s in the past now, rescue the rest of the day.
  • “I’ve been really good. I deserve a reward” – being slim and in control is my best reward.
  • “I’ve got PMS. I need chocolate” – eating sugar will make me feel worse.
  • “One slice is not too bad” – but I know it’ll end up being 4 slices!

6 Choose to eat or not

“A biscuit would be nice but I choose not to have one right now”.

Don’t take orders from a packet of biscuits! Choosing puts you back in control. Remember, the responsibility is yours. You are the one who puts food in your mouth, even if it sometimes feels as though it is out of your control, it never is.

7 Develop short, key phrases to help you make new choices

The more you use a phrase, the more it becomes a part of what you now do, so develop phrases such as “Don’t start, don’t get the taste” or “I actually don’t want this” or “I am not hungry, so I will not eat for the moment”. Creating a mental picture can also help, e.g. visualising yourself slamming a cupboard door on the unhealthy foods you are now choosing to avoid. Practise this until it becomes second nature.

8 Use displacement activities

If you get a crave/ binge thought, do something else (paint your nails, go for a walk, clean out the fridge, put on some music, write a letter, for example). Simply giving yourself a few moments may relieve the pressure and stop the chain reaction. Find something that works for you, write these down to reinforce them and commit to doing them.

9 Accept your slips

Unless you are superhuman, there will be the odd time that you slip and have more than you should. Slim people over indulge too – but they don’t beat themselves up about it. They just go back to eating normally. Remember, the occasional slice of cake or a portion that is too big is not going to make you put on a few pounds, but a huge binge will. Plus, binges on sugary or salty food will make you retain water – making you look and feel heavier than you really are. It’s just not worth it. If you have a slip you can still rescue the situation and stop it turning into a binge, sabotaging all your good work. Say: “It’s done, it’s in the past and I choose to move on”. Reaffirm your resolve to make a different choice next time.

10 Practise, practise, practise

…until your new found control feels completely normal, which it will! It takes at least 21 times of doing something to create a new habit. It feels weird at first and takes a lot of conscious effort. But eventually, your brain ‘gets it’ and you will do it without thinking!

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Good health begins as a thought

The mind-body connection

Achieving long-term health and energy is a balancing act.   You have to look after your mind-body connection as much as you look after what you eat.

Quite simply, what you put into your mind may have as much of an impact as the food and supplements you feed your body.

Many studies have been conducted on the mind-body connection. What we know for sure is that a positive attitude works – when we remember to nurture it.

Wholesome food, avoiding sugar and toxins are obvious tools for great health but how should you deal with the consequences of negative thinking and stress?

Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building a strong social support as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.

Winning ways to promote good mind-body health

EXERCISE

The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting your immune system.

During exercise, the lymphatic system – a network of tissues and organs that helps your body to eliminate toxins and waste – is mobilised. Its main role is to transport lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells. Unlike the blood, which is transported by the heart, lymph fluid only moves if you do.

A recent study from a North Carolina university showed that people who exercised for five or more days weekly experienced 43% fewer days of upper respiratory infections.

Walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity also dramatically reduces stress by ‘working off steam’ when you are upset or angry. With the release of endorphins, your body receives a natural mood boost, resulting in reduced stress levels. This in turn puts less pressure on your immune system.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

According to an American Psychological Association study, stress is what keeps more than 40% of adults awake at night.

  • To aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night
  • avoid caffeine,
  • avoid digital screens, and
  • try to turn in at the same time each evening.

FOCUS ON SELF-CARE

Make an effort to do something nice for yourself every day. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to the system, resulting in increased vulnerability to illness.

Women, in particular, tend to put their own needs last, especially if they’re caring for children and/or elderly parents.  If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a manicure or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else. Simple, but effective.

MINDFULNESS

You cut in half the chances of catching a cold by meditating. A University of Wisconsin study showed that people who practised mindfulness – a type of meditation or mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations – noted 13 fewer illnesses and took 51 fewer sick days. Researchers concluded that this reduced the physical effects of stress. Stress weakens the immune system.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE…

Building strong social connections has proven psychological and physiological benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small – boosts immunity by creating ‘stress buffers’.

Being able to share stress or concerns with close family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice. This alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.

Ongoing stress is also a contributing factor to many chronic diseases.  And it is seriously not helpful if you are trying to lose weight.

 

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.”

– Jack Kornfield, American author and Buddhist mindfulness pioneer.

 

PS If there is anything that has come up for you as a result of this post, please get in touch. I warmly invite you to book in for a free 30-minute call.  We can discuss to see if a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan might help. You can book yourself directly into my diary by clicking right here http://bit.ly/tnt-bookcall.

thought

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Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?

Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?

Try these strategies…

  • Don’t stay in bed more than 20-30 minutes trying to fall asleep. Leave your bedroom and go to a relaxing room other than the bedroom and read or do a relaxation technique (e.g., meditation).
  • Consider reading a good neutral book under low light to help with falling asleep.
  • If using a tablet or phone for reading, make sure they are in the nighttime setting and brightness is as low as possible.
  • If using a light, don’t use a table lamp. Instead use a HUD light or other small light that only illuminates the reading material.
  • If you awaken early because of light, put a dark covering over your eyes.
  • If you awaken early because of recurrent thoughts, try writing them in a journal. If this does not help, consider counseling. Depression might be a factor.

(The Institute for Functional Medicine)

 

insomnia

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Mindfulness for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Mindfulness

…for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Mindfulness meditation can be defined as focusing awareness on each moment, including the environment, as well as physical and emotional sensations. It can assist with managing social relationships, economic concerns, and decision-making, as well as improving mental state.

It often uses either slow, intentional breathing or imagery to help to focus the thoughts. In clinical studies, practicing mindfulness and/or mindfulness meditation before bed has led to benefits including:

  • Reduced insomnia
  • Deeper sleep
  • Fewer episodes of wakefulness during the night
  • Improved mood and resilience
  • Greater daytime energy
  • Less anxiety

How to Get Started

  • Select a quiet place where you can relax. Sit, stand, or lie down comfortably.
  • Pay attention to the environment, listening to the sounds, smelling what is around you, and feeling the temperature of the room.
  • Focus inward. Take several deep breaths, paying attention to how your body feels as you breathe. Let your eyes close as you become more relaxed.
  • Scan your body and assess how you feel. Focus your awareness on the parts of your body that are tense or in pain. Breathe deeply and acknowledge the feeling, without judging it.
  • If desired, you can imagine your body becoming heavier, more anchored to the earth.
  • If you wish, you can visualize a location that makes you particularly happy. That could be a natural setting, a vacation spot you remember fondly, or a place where something good happened in your life.
  • Let the thoughts flow. If you have anxious or worried thoughts, let each occurrence be an opportunity to observe the thought and let it go. Rather than fighting the thoughts, imagine standing still and letting the thoughts flow around you. Bring your attention back to your breath.
  • If you are concerned about losing track of time, set a timer.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation before you get ready for bed. Perhaps meditate before you brush your teeth, or after shutting off your phone or computer, or as you lie in bed ready to fall asleep. Make mindfulness meditation part of your routine.

(The Institute for Functional Medicine)

 

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How to get a good night’s sleep

How to get a good night’s sleep

DO…

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine.
  • Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
  • Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.
  • Spend time outdoors to soak up the sun.
  • Try to take some gentle exercise every There is evidence that regular exercise improves restful sleep. This includes stretching and aerobic exercise. A brisk walk ticks both boxes.
  • Make an effort to relax for at least 5 minutes before going to bed – a warm bath, massage, meditation.
  • Keep your feet and hands Wear warm socks and/or mittens or gloves to bed.
  • Consider getting a traditional alarm clock so your smartphone can stay out of the bedroom (see below). Better still, work out how much sleep you need by going to bed 15 minutes earlier until you find that you wake up naturally before your alarm. That’s your personal sleep requirement.

DON’T…

  • Engage in stimulating activities – like playing a competitive game, watching an edge-of-the seat film, or having an important conversation with a loved.  Even using smartphones and tablets can interfere with sleep, because they emit the same kind of light as the morning sun.
  • Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
  • Drink caffeine after lunch – like coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and
  • Use alcohol to help you Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.
  • Go to bed too hungry. Have a snack before bed – a glass of milk or banana are ideal.
  • Try to avoid daytime naps (if these are a problem for you).
  • Try not to get frustrated if you can’t sleep. Go to bed in a positive mood – “I will sleep tonight”.

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Why is sleep important?

Why is sleep important?

Sleep Awareness Week  – 11-18 March

So many people I see in clinic struggle with the effects of poor sleep. So, in aid of National Sleep Awareness Week this week, I want to talk to you about why a good sleep is so important and how you can go about getting it!

A good night’s sleep is as important to health as eating the right things and exercise. Your physical and emotional wellbeing depend on getting enough. Yet we’re living in sleep-deprived times. Some people are even competitive about how little sleep they’re getting, like dragging yourself through the day on four hours’ rest is a badge of honour. Scientists even say we’re now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were 60 years ago. And the effect on our bodies is not good.

The amount of sleep each person needs varies. Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning is a good indicator and so is being able to wake without an alarm. If you need an alarm to wake up, you are not getting enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be able to concentrate properly, and become irritable or agitated. You may also have blurred vision, be clumsy, become disorientated or slow to respond, and have decreased motivation. And, on top of that, if you’re tired and cranky, you are significantly less likely to make the best food choices.

You might be surprised to learn that, in a computer simulated driving test, those who had had just a few hours sleep were more dangerous on the (virtual) road than the people who had had a few drinks! In fact, the majority of road accidents are caused by tiredness.

The purpose of sleep is to rest and recover – and to allow the body to repair itself. These maintenance and repair processes take 7 to 9 hours. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours per night – regardless of what you think you have trained yourself to get by with.

But just how do you get a good night’s sleep?  Join me tomorrow….

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Health Benefits of Napping

Health Benefits of Napping

Sleep Awareness Week and National Napping Day

Not only is this Sleep Awareness Week, but today is National Napping Day.

With the hectic pace of day-to-day life, many people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night
in order to function at their best. Getting a few less hours for even a few nights in a row can have the same effect as
staying awake for 24 hours straight. And, over time, chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, increased stress levels, reduced attention span, and declined cognitive performance.

One way to combat the effects of sleep deprivation—and repay some sleep debt—is to incorporate daytime napping
into your schedule.

Now I LOVE a nap and I am gifted on the sleep front I confess.  I can easily have an hour long nap on a Sunday afternoon and still sleep well at night. I know this is not the case for everyone.  But naps don’t have to all be long to still have health benefits.  Even just 20 minutes can help improve memory, alertness, and energy levels.

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FREE “Create Your Own Retreat Without Leaving Home” eBook

Hopefully you’ve been following me the past seven days with my tips for creating your own at-home day spa.

If you would like these tips, plus a few bonus sections, in one FREE guide, please click here.

Clients often come to me with stress as part of what is affecting their health.  Self-care is so important to help us de-stress and to rest and relax.  It is such an important part of health care.  I know the tips you’ll find in this guide will help you on your journey to great health and page 12 may surprise you!

Yours in health,
Sharon

PS – If you’re serious about improving your health and you need information, guidance and motivation, I warmly invite you to get in touch with me, by clicking here to book a free 20 minute Skype or phone call with me.

ebook

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Read a life-affirming book

Read a life-affirming book

Step 7 to create your at-home spa day

Taking time out to read is a fantastic form of self care. For a true spa day experience, put down the thriller and switch to a game-changing book that will leave you feeling motivated and inspired.

My favourites include Things Will Get as Good as you Can Stand by Laura Doyle, and Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout.

 

Thank you for following my 7 Steps to creating your own at-home spa day.  To get these tips plus some bonus info on gentle detox, self care and nourishing foods, please click here to get my free Create Your Own Retreat Without Leaving Home Ebook

 

And Happy Mother’s Day today to my friends in the UK.