"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

Do you get more hungry when you are stressed?

Lisa Cutforth - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hunger hormone may increase in times of stress.

This could explain why often people want to eat more in response to stress.

 It is known that fasting causes ghrelin, a hunger hormone, to be produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which sends a signal to the brain that essentially increases our appetite.  Interesting research has found that exposure to stress can also cause ghrelin levels to rise.  This may be because the body anticipates that it will have increased need for resources or kick in primal survival and danger cues as a form of preparation for disaster.  However, paradoxically, it appears that the behaviours associated with depression and anxiety will tend to decrease as ghrelin levels rise.  Researchers have explained this might have been an evolutionary adaptation: the anti-anxiety effect of hunger-induced ghrelin may have provided a survival advantage.  Our hunter - gatherer ancestors who need to make food accumulation a priority, where able to keep calm and focused while in search of food, or they could have been at risk of becoming dinner themselves should they not have their wits about them. 

So while the ghrelin increase could have an antidepressant effect and possibly even increase energy levels, it could contribute to weight problems.  Similarly researchers are optimistic at blocking the body's response to ghrelin signals in an attempt to control weight by decreasing intake, however this could actually increase anxiety and depression.  It seems that could be a vicious cycle for someone who is prone to comfort eating.  They would feel more anxious and look for food even more to soothe.

Getting hungrier in response to stress and eating more when added to another physiological response to stress, make stress a key player and culprit in weight problems.

Another interesting factor that appears to make stress a contributor to poor weight control is the body's physiological response.  Stressed individuals tend to have increased abdominal fat receptors around their gut, and so will have a tendency to be able to store more or put on more weight during times of times, particularly chronic or ongoing stress.  

So what else could you do with your mouth and stomach in a response to stress that makes you feel better, increases endorphins and has a positive effect on your waistline?


There is a lot of research highlighting the stress management benefits of laughter:

  1. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenalin, dopamine and growth hormone. 
  2. Laughter provides a physical and emotional release, often you can feel really cleansed and invigorated from a good laugh.
  3. Laughter gives you a good internal workout.  It exercises your facial muscles, your diaphragm, your heart, contracts your abs and shoulders and leaves muscles feeling more relaxed afterwards.
  4. Laughter is a great distraction, if helps bring your focus away from negative emotions like anger or guilt. 
  5. Laughter is a great connector and so has social benefits.
  6. Laughter helps you shift perspective.  Humour can give you a more lighthearted perspective so that something is viewed as a challenge rather than a threat.
  7. Laughter can help you to alter your state.  Even a fake or forced laugh or smile can have a positive effect on your physiology, so lift up the corners of your mouth, throw back your head and LAUGH OUT LOUD!



Master yourself and your opponent by emptying your mind

Lisa Cutforth - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some times it is necessary to get out of your head and empty your mind.  Bruce Lee likens it to being "like water my friend".

Meditation, focus, determination... and emptying your mind can be great weapons against any opponent... particularly your thoughts.

Are you a compulsive eater?

Lisa Cutforth - Monday, May 23, 2011

How do you know if you are suffering from compulsive eating?

Your relationship with food, whether good or poor should not be underestimated. Here are some signs of compulsive eating:

Signs of Compulsive Eating:

• Think about food a lot.

• Eat to relieve worry or stress.

• Continue to eat even after feeling sick from eating too much.

• Become anxious while eating.

• Daydream or worry while eating.

• Overeat.

• Eat too fast.

• Eat everything on the plate.

• Feel guilty when you eat.

• Eat secretly.

• Cannot eat one cookie, or any treat that you really like.

• Binge after a diet.

• Hunger makes you feel fearful and uncomfortable.

Please get in contact with Lisa if you find that you do more than 3 of the above especially if it is starting to affect your health, which it ultimately will.  You may have weight management problems, poor energy, low self esteem, feelings of overwhelm or loss of control, blood sugar problems, heart problems, or deficiencies developing.  Lisa specialises in people's relationships with food and would love to hear from you.  You can get help and information by filling in a contact us form.

Healthy Shopping List: 5 Tips

Lisa Cutforth - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Healthy Shopping List: 

"Healthy eating begins in the kitchen, whether it's in a home, restaurant, dining hall, or other venue. To get the most out of the recipes you prepare, keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients from the Healthy Eating Pyramid." (Harvard Nutrition Source, May 2011)

I am often asked by my clients for tips on healthy shopping and what to stock up on.  If you get the basics right you can make healthy eating really easy.  I have a basic shopping list which I can send through to you if you request it (just fill out a form on the Contact-Us page); however I thought I would share the following 5 tips with you as they are nice and simple and landed in my inbox this morning!

5 Tips for stocking a healthy kitchen  

The Harvard Nutrition Source recommended the following 5 easy to implement tips:

"1. Produce. Choose locally grown vegetables and fruits whenever you can. Keep on hand garlic, onions, dark salad greens like spinach and romaine, carrots, and apples. When you shop, select produce that looks good, or what's on sale."

My note: When you choose locally grown vegetable and fruit, it is usually fresher, because it doesn't have as far to travel it is usually picked later and undergoes less storage and less handling.  Therefore it is often cheaper too. The fresher the fruit and vegetables the more enzymes and nutrients present!

"2. Grains. Trade in white rice for the bounty of great whole grains: barley, cracked wheat (bulgur), oat berries, quinoa, brown rice, and a host of others. Try whole wheat pasta or one of the whole wheat blends now on the market."

My note: Whole grains provide fibre for a healthy digestive tract and are also lower in glycaemic load so will help you to manage your blood sugar, your energy levels and your weight!

"3. Protein. Rely on healthy protein such as fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu, eggs, and a variety of beans and nuts. And move away from the traditional mealtime paradigm of a large portion of meat at the center of your plate. Instead, build a healthy plate: half the plate vegetables and fruits, one quarter of the plate with healthy proteins, and one quarter of the plate with whole grains."

My note: Beans and lentils and pulses and nuts and seeds are a much more affordable and often more versatile way of getting extra protein into your diet.  Vegetable proteins are also kinder on your heart and digestive tract that many animal proteins.  If you do eat meat or animal protein, limit the portion to the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand and try to follow the guidelines above for the "healthy plate".

"4. Fats and oils. Use liquid vegetable oils whenever possible for sautéing vegetables, stir-frying fish or chicken, and as the base of salad dressings. Good choices include canola, sunflower, corn, soybean, peanut, and olive oil. A dash of a specialty oil, like extra-virgin olive oil, walnut or pistachio oil, sesame oil, or truffle oil, can make steamed vegetables come alive. Mashed avocado, rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, makes a fabulous topping for sandwiches."

My note: Here I would probably recommend that you cook with oils like coconut oil, as other oils will be destroyed or denatured much quicker through cooking. Use other plant or vegetable oils raw drizzled over your food or as salad dressings.

"5. Other essentials. Learn what chefs have known for a long time: A small amount of a high-quality ingredient goes a long way toward boosting flavor. Stock your kitchen with good-quality tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, fresh and dried herbs, dried cherries or cranberries, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a variety of unsalted nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios)."

My note:  I always have fresh ginger, garlic and lemon on hand and good quality vegetable stock.  Low salt and wheat free soya sauces like tamari can also add flavour to steamed vegetables or stir fries.

Ref: 5 Tips for Stocking a Healthy Kitchen:  The Nutrition Source at Harvard School of Public Health e- newsletter, May 2011. 

I would recommend signing up for their newsletter as some great articles come through. This was an example of one I received this week (May 2011) with some great healthy shopping tips.  They tend to provide great little recipes and extra resources to accompany their literature.

Natural Toothpaste

Lisa Cutforth - Thursday, April 07, 2011

Finding a "natural toothpaste" you love to use!

After hearing some pretty scary stories about the poisons in toothpaste, particularly popular and well respected brands, I got a bit of a scare.  Now, I am pretty rational and averse to most hypey sensationalism, but the fact that some toothpastes or ingredients have even been banned in certain countries, I decided it was high time I paid attention.

Oral hygiene has always been a priority for me.  It is easier to look after your teeth than replace them or live toothless is my philosophy.

So I went on the hunt for herbal toothpastes, or natural toothpastes. The one I settled on was one called "Bio-spark" and here is my experience of it.

  • It is BROWN!  This was a little alarming, "no nice white bleach used" (wink) and it took a minor little adjustment to see this brown goo on my toothbrush.  At first squirt out the tube, this kind of watery liquid squirted out and I thought, "hmm, not excited about this." 
  • Having put it in my mouth it was minty and not unpleasant tasting.  The aftertaste and the burny "freshness" that I am used to with usual toothpaste was not there, which I thought, "hmm, ok, I can get used to this as long as I don't have stinky breath!"
  • The most exciting part is since using it... my tongue is nice and pink and healthy looking again... so from that side, I really do feel like it is doing something good in my mouth, and certainly doing no harm, which I can't say for other conventional toothpastes.  Your mouth is VERY porous, which means, whatever chemicals you put in your mouth can get into your bloodstream pretty easily and quickly.  You don't want to absorb some of these toxins... they are pretty nasty. 

So if you are brave enough and can endure a little change, you may find you are pleasantly surprised.  There are many brands and varieties out there.  This happened to be the first one I am trying in Australia.  I tried others in South Africa. Bio-Spark is made with neem, clove, sea salt, tumeric and gooseberry, (with No fluoride, no sulfate, no alcohol, no parabens, no sugar or saccharin).

Happy brushing.

Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts you would like to pick my brain about or my opinion on...


How to Make Difficult Decisions

Lisa Cutforth - Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Art of Making Difficult Decisions...Confidently

Decision making...  something we do daily, yet something that has the power to consume us so completely it leaves us paralyzed. 

Everyone at some point in their lives is faced with the challenging task of making a difficult decision, but what are the secrets to owning the decision you make and to making it confidently and being able to live with the consequences and outcome no matter what?

Here are some points to help you make a decision confidently and live with yourself no matter what happens:

  1. Check in with your values.  Our values drive our behaviours, our reality, our perspective and our truth.  Check in with yourself.  Write them down if you have to and see what is most important to you and how each decision ties in with your most important values.  Email me if you are stuck on how to find out what is most important to you, and how to define your priorities.  (That may sound absurd but many people, including myself at one point, aren't always actually conscious or "in touch" with what is most important to them).  I have a few resources that could help you with this process.
  2. To satisfy the rational and thinking part of your brain do the pros and cons exercise.  Weigh out all the pros and cons for the decision at hand.  I like to make four columns, and look for pros and cons for making the decision either way.  Tally up the pros and cons, then pick one decision and imagine you have made it, "try it on" and see what the outcome FEELS like as you project yourself into the future as if you have already made the decision.  If you have a slight nagging sensation... go back to the drawing board or try on another decision.  Be really honest with yourself. 
  3. Trust yourself, use "your gut", your instincts. Check in with what feels right, not just what seems rational or what the world or your peers believe is the "right" decision.  You can only make the best decision you can based on what you feel and know to be true AT THE TIME of the decision.  Use the information you have available to you now.
  4. Give yourself permission to "get it wrong", there is no failure only growth and learning.  
  5. Choose really carefully who you allow to "give you advice", they don't have to wake up as you or live in your head every day or live with the consequences or live out the decision for you.  Seek counsel only from wise and objective mentors or professionals who you respect and admire, hold similar values to yourself and who can cope if you make  a decision that doesn't heed their advice or is contrary to their opinion, and better still- the best counsel is someone who asks you questions about what decision you would like to make rather than tell you what decision they would make if "they were in your shoes".  Otherwise you can get yourself all confused or feel obliged to make a certain decision, even if you know it doesn't necessarily serve you.  So if part of your processing and information gathering involves asking other people what they think, be prepared to be objective and let some of this information and opinion go. 
  6. Sleep on it, meditate on it, pray about it... then MAKE the decision, choose one AND KEEP MOVING!
  7. And here is the most important part and the part many people get wrong which ultimately makes any future decision making harder because they are so hard on themselves and put so much weight on "getting the decision right". If your decision seemingly doesn't work out "for the best".  Don't go back with hindsight bias and should all over yourself.  Be gentle on yourself and trust that you made the very best decision you could at the time based on the information you had.  Acknowledge how difficult it was to make the decision and assess what can now be done to move forward confidently.  Do not beat yourself up under any circumstances.  Do allow reflection and growth... but approach that and yourself gently with respect and compassion and be prepared to stand up for yourself.  You made the best decision you could at the time, it's that simple.

That's a start!  With a bit of practice you can get better and better at making decisions you can live with... I have!

Good Luck!

Why you shouldn't skip meals!

Lisa Cutforth - Monday, February 07, 2011

Reasons not to skip meals, why it can actually slow your metabolism and contribute to your weight problem!

When you skip meals or don't eat your body enters what is referred to as a fasting state and then starvation state.  This starts to happen after 4-6 hours without food, and depending on how you have trained your body, the effects can be more or less serious.

Here are some of the physiological effects though that tend to occur in the body, when it goes for a period without food:
  1. The body when depleted of carbohydrate stores will switch to alternative fuel sources, this process is known as Ketosis. The body will use available blood glucose, and then revert to carbohydrate stores for example glycogen in the liver and muscles. Once those are depleted (usually within 6 hours) the first "alternate" fuel it reaches for is protein, and unfortuately unlike carbohydrate and fat your body doesn't have stores of protein, so your body will break down muscle. This will directly affect your metabolism and your energy levels.  Your muscles or lean body mass help to set your metabolism.  The lower your metabolism the less energy you burn and have.
  2. Slowing of metabolism as the body readjusts it’s energy output and input and attempts to become more efficient.  Your body slows down its metabolism in a defensive effort to preserve energy and important resources. Your brain, nerves and red blood cells rely on carbohydrate to function, your body makes meeting these needs a priority.
  3. Malnutrition: Deficiencies start to result as essential nutrients are depleted and are not replenished.  If you are not taking nutrients in your supplies are used up and over time you can be malnourished but even in the short term your body processes can be compromised if you are missing important tools to function.
  4. Wasting occurs as tissues are broken down for fuel, muscle wasting occurs before fat stores are immobilised.  Your body starts to break down muscle and eventually fat stores and as a result you start to see and feel changes in your body.
  5. Survival: the body activates stress and survival strategies.  It is stressful for your body the longer it has to go without food particularly if your eating patterns are erattic and it doesn't know when it can expect it's next meal.
  6. Shutting down of “unnecessary” processes: the body decides which body functions are non- essential, for example long term starvation as in the case of anorexia can result in anorexic dysmenorrhea (loss of periods/menstruation.)
  7. Organ and System failure, eventually key organs may begin to malfunction or shut down
  8. Death: finally in severe cases of prolonged starvation (or periods without any nutrition such as excessive ongoing fasting and starvation - beyond a couple of weeks, and depending on the individual).
Too many people skip meals in a misinformed attempt to manage their weight or because of poor planning with a busy schedule, essentially your body will work better for you if you respect it, its rules and its simple and effective functioning. 

It is a good idea to eat small regular meals.  That is the most effective way to control your blood sugar, your energy, your weight and your mood.  The result is health worth celebrating!

Dribbilicious Australian Summer Fruit

Lisa Cutforth - Thursday, January 27, 2011
I quite enjoyed this rather funny promotion of Australian summer stone fruit!

What to Prepare When the Shelves are bare!

Lisa Cutforth - Monday, January 17, 2011

Bare Shelves at Supermarkets as a result of Queensland Flood Disaster

The Queensland Flood Disaster has certainly left some supermarket shelves bare and left many people including myself feeling a little bit like "Old Mother Hubbard"!

Here is a "store cupboard" recipe you can prepare for yourself and your family, even if you have no access to fresh fruit and vegetables, you can usually access the following ingredients pretty easily.  This meal is certainly simple and nutritious and with a little bit of your own style and personal flair can be very tasty!

Confetti Rice:


1 onion
Garlic (if you have)
1 stockcube
2 cups of rice (whatever you  have)
1 cup lentils (rinsed)
1 cups of frozen mixed veggies (or tinned mixed veg)
Mixed herbs (whatever you have) (I like margorum, or mixed herbs or rosemary or thyme)
Mixed spices (whatever you have, I like: Mixed spice, or cumin, or ground coriander, or mustard seed and a bit of paprika)

  1. Saute (fry) the onion in a little butter, olive oil or coconut oil, if you have some garlic add, add the a teaspoon of spices and a teaspoon of herbs.
  2. When the onion is clear (opaque), add the rice, stir, then add the stock cube and 4 cups of water, add the lentils.
  3. Bring to boil then simmer for 15 minutes (keeping an eye on the water level, it should start to absorb and go down, make sure it doesn't dry out though before the rice is cooked).
  4. When the rice is nearly cooked, stir in the mixed veggies and heat through.
  5. You can add any other extra flavours you like depending what you have available:  for example you may have some condiments like soya sauce or tomato sauce, chutney or mayonnaise, you may have some fresh lemon to squeeze in or some fresh herbs or spring onion or dukka to chop and stir through.  If you are fish lover you can stir in some tuna and leave out the lentils.



Lisa Cutforth - Sunday, January 09, 2011
Above all seek to be aware!

“Logical awareness is always accompanied by a burst of insight.  The more you understand the elegant and delightful territory of this incisive mental skill, the more easily you will bestride the domains of knowledge.” Don Tolman

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