"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

Archive for Eat well To Live

Aaah… comfort eating. The sheer enwrapment and mm-mmm-mmm of snuggling up under the doona on a cold winter’s evening in front a fabulous chick flick with a cup of milo and a timtam. Dunking a Tim Tam

You nip off the ends and dunk the tim tam into the mug of hot milky liquid and suck deeply, oooh, the decadent ooze of warm soft slightly granular chocolately middle floods into your mouth.

Heavenly, quickly before it drops into your mug you shove the rest into your mouth and the chocolate explosion is so gorgeous, you close your eyes near purring. You stare ahead at the screen and savour the last of the experience licking the chocolate off each one of your fingers…
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Delicious, blissful… addictive even… You reach for another, then another… ooh, it is so rich, you are nearly feeling ill, just one last one. But your need is insatiable. Physically you couldn’t possibly have another, but psychological, oh yes you could!

Certainly you have at least one comfort food you reach for when you are feeling anxious, stressed, down, tired, frustrated, bored or just wanting a little “pick me up and make me feel better”…

Here are some of other peoples choices…

  • Cheese toastie
  • Apple pie
  • Macaroni cheese
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Chocolate
  • Ice-cream
  • Milk and cookies
  • Tea and biscuits
  • Tea and toast
  • Chicken Soup
  • Pizza
  • Mashed potato
  • Potato Chips
  • Peanut butter and honey or jam sandwich
  • Junket
  • Bread dipped in balsamic and olive oil
  • Pavlova
  • Roast dinner

It is interesting to note they typically have one very telling thing in common: they are high in refined carbohydrates. So what is it that makes us choose to eat certain foods over others, and why is it these foods can make you feel better when you are feeling down, you might be wondering…

It may come as a surprise to learn that your comfort food of choice has a lot to do with your upbringing.  Generally background culture tends to affect comfort food trends: for example one the most popular comfort food in the UK is boiled egg and soldiers (toast cut into strips for dipping into the soft yolk) where in Ireland Irish stews are popular.  So comfort foods are not necessarily unhealthy and are often far from gourmet.  Being male or female also seems to affect your comfort food of choice. Men are more likely to choose meals and the ladies are more likely to choose snacky foods.

What did your parents give you to cheer you up when you were growing up? Did you have a favourite meal request? Were certain foods associated with special occasions?

You may find your kids will request certain favourite foods (similar to how you used to request your certain favourite dishes from your mother, grandmother or even your father) … lentil soup or macaroni cheese, that will for the rest of their lives be imprinted in their brain as mom’s recipe (in my case, my dad makes the most glorious soup).  Fresh pawpaw always reminds me of my mom and being a little girl, we had these gorgeous honeygold pawpaws and she would get home from work, pick one, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and hand me a spoon, then we would sit on the back step and dig in.  I still love to sit outside in the sun and eat fresh pawpaw. 

The attachment to the food is much less about the food than about the feelings of nurturing, giving, and unconditional love and safety that come with feeding. The sense of home, love and belonging. Not to mention the feel good reward, as mom is able to provide for her little darlings something that they like to eat and nourishes them, and the little darlings get the positive warm feedback overflow from this.

Why do we comfort eat?

Any sort of emotional eating is usually an attempt to offset negative emotions.  Triggers include stress, anxiety, boredom, anger, loneliness, frustration and sadness.   There seems to be a couple of explanations for comfort eating, the reason is pretty simple, it makes us feel better, temporarily at least. 

One possible explanation from a study in October 2007 Nature revealed that the brain releases a key signaling hormone associated with pleasure when our stomach becomes full.  So chemically, comfort eating makes us feel better.

Another explanation is psychologically, comfort eating makes us feel better. Comfort foods tend to be described as foods that soothe the psyche, they typically relate back to pleasant memories and associations from your childhood, giving you a sense of nostalgia, safety and security when eaten. 

But has this changed?  Nowadays comfort foods tend to come in boxes or in packages, they are not the homemade comforts of old necessarily… and actually some children have never even tasted their parents home cooking! However the association and happy memory can still be there.  For example one client reported being taken to McDonalds everytime after a doctors appointment, therefore she connected eating McDonalds with feeling better.

Interestingly though, there is some physiological sense attached to some of the more unhealthy high sugar, high fat comfort foods that are reached for in times of stress particularly later in life, when mom isn’t around to make the comfort food, you might reach for another…

There are a few possible explanations for this… one is that some of these carbohydrate foods contain an amino acid: tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin, commonly recognised as the happy hormone. Tryptophan utilisation is aided by the presence of glucose… so these sugary foods, chocolate is a good example, it contains both tryptophan and sugar, which means that you get a bit of a tryptophan kick, making more serotonin available. Chocolate also contains other chemicals that make you feel good… which is why it’s such a popular choice.  And it’s also why if you are low in serotonin or feeling a little down, chocolate actually can make you feel a bit better.

In addition, the sugar rush to your brain, can feel good, its a little druglike!

Another chemical dopamine is also involved in this pleasurable endevour.  Dopamine is your pleasure seeking or pleasure controlling neurotransmitter.  (And therefore is largely connected to motivation.) 

The cells in the dopamine system in the brain are active when we are taking or anticipating pleasure in some activity.  Tests in monkeys have found cells fire up in response to taste of pleasant food.  It seems that the dopamine levels contribute to this wanting, acting as a primary motivator to seek out things we believe we want or will get pleasure from.   Interestingly studies conducted on rats found that when dopamine blocking drugs were used to shut the system down, rats would starve even when surrounded by mountains of tasty food.     

The dopamine system also interacts with a class of brain chemicals called opiods (because of their similarity to opium).  Opiods seem to be directly involved in pleasure.  What is especially interesting about this is that in some people casein (a protein) found in milk can actually act like an opiate in the brain, due to a metabolism problem.  These people will generally feel a very strong attachment or enjoyment to milk as a comfort food. 

The injection of opiates (chemical form) into wide areas of a rat brain resulted in both more eating and more positive behaviours towards foods.  So these compounds can actually trigger you to eat more, which consequently can contribute to regular overindulgence and weight gain. The reverse is also true, taking an opioid-blocking drug makes things that are usually delicious seem less so!  

Is there a cure for comfort eating?  No and there needn’t be!  

What can you enjoy that isn’t going to become problematic to your waist line and still give you comfort? Or how can you let comfort eating serve you and not sabotage you?

Firstly, try to connect with what is stirring you emotionally?  Are you upset, bored, anxious, nervous…

Then you can try some tactics: like distraction… delay the gratification, don’t give in immediately, wait 15 minutes, nurture yourself another way or find an alternative way to give yourself pleasure or comfort. 

Break the habit of comfort eating…

 Try calling a friend, go for a walk, run a bath, go shopping… if that doesn’t work, seek out the best quality version of your comfort food (definitely don’t keep them at home, or keep a stock of healthy comfort foods) and sit and give it all of your attention, don’t do anything else other than eat and enjoy in your comfort food.  Eat it slowly, one mouth full at a time and savour each bite.  This way you are less likely to overdo it, soon you realise it isn’t really about the food its about the “vibe” and association, whatever you do enjoy the treat and DEFINITELY don’t feel guilty. 

And remember really any food can become a comfort food, with enough positive association around it:  a Chai Soy Latte has become one for me, raisin toast with cinnamon and a thin spread of my butter and olive oil mix, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate with almonds or hazelnuts, a big bowl of minestrone or pumpkin soup, and polenta and tomato relish because it reminds me of South Africa. 

It is also useful to consider and take advantage of other ways to nurture candlelit-bathyourself when you are needing comfort. A good long soaking candlelit bath with essential oils like rose geranium and ylang ylang also brings me great comfort, I feel like I am getting a great big warm hug by the water and the glow of the candles. Getting a foot rub or a reflexology treatment or a relaxing massage can be tremendously therapeutic.  

Because the mechanisms that control the wanting for things are not the same as those that control the mechanism for liking them, you can crave something very much and take little or no pleasure in it once you have it… so be sure you do take all the pleasure you can from the experience, and if you aren’t enjoying it, stop.  Find something else that will give you some level of pleasure.

So, relish in your comforts, treat yourself often, be kind to yourself absolutely, but do consider… are you guilty of being a comfort pig? ;o)
10 Ways to know for sure if you are a Comfort Pig…

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Jun
08

No Free lunches?

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Does your lunch choice make cents? Just how much is clever marketing and a desire for apparent convenience costing you? The courier mail investigated childrens lunch boxes, here’s some of their findings…

“On average, a lunchbox with pre-packaged food costs $33 a week compared to a fresh food lunchbox at $14 a week.” You could save nearly $20 a week PER PERSON!

But it is not only costing you financially, there is a much bigger loss attached: and it’s certainly not weight loss… it’s your family’s health.

“The daily recommended intake for a 10-year-old child is 8500kJ a day, and 45g-80g of fat.
A comparison revealed: The unhealthiest lunchbox contained a total of 61.2g of fat and equalled 5208kJ. However, a healthy lunchbox comes in at 2678kJ and a total of 18g of fat - a difference of 2530kJ.

“An average 10-year-old weighing 42kg would need to walk for more than four hours every day just to burn up the extra energy between the two lunchboxes.

“The short-term health effects for children that eat a poor diet include difficulty concentrating because of dehydration from high salt content in food, constipation from lack of fibre and poor behaviour.”

Click here for Courier Mail’s full article.

For more information and some great tips… on children’s nutrition and fussy eaters…

Categories : Eat well To Live
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Glass of milk.The answer is no…
There are many other ways to get enough calcium without needing to drink cow’s milk.
Read Harvard’s full report, get great non dairy sources of calcium and learn some of the reasons to avoid milk…

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Jun
04

Heart Foundation Tick Explained

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Shopping for food can be an overwhelming experience, there are SO many different products out there.  Many of them are shamelessly marketing health claims at you these days… how do you see through that, how do you get the one up on these sneaky suppliers. 

If you want to choose healthy foods, shop for foods that most closely resemble their healthy form and don’t come in packages or boxes or plastic, stack your shopping cart high with those foods, and then add some of the other convenient foods that you like to have about.

And you could use the Heart Tick as a guide: remember though, some foods that don’t have the heart tick can still be healthy and some even healthier than tick approved food. But it is a useful easy starting guide, every little helps!

Categories : Eat well To Live
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100 % Health With 10 % Effort

100 % Health With 10 % Effort

Imagine! You wake up in the morning without your alarm clock, as the sun comes up, feeling perfectly rested. You jump out of bed straight away and actually look forward to your routinely morning exercise, which you perform with a bounce in your step. You are excited about the day ahead, you’re organized, effective, you get results, you excel. When you get home in the evening you don’t need a glass of wine or a stiffer drink to unwind, you are easily able to relax. You settle in for a nice evening, in good cheer with good food, which you have the energy and inclination to prepare. You are at peace with the world and in control of your life, nothing feels like a burden or too much effort. After an enjoyable evening you get into bed, your mind is at ease and you fall straight to sleep.

Wow! Imagine the possibilities of feeling this GREAT!

Only a select few of you have ever felt this good, really enjoy your life and get a buzz each day with the level of excellence and desire you hold. Many of you don’t believe it’s even possible to live life like this, to feel energised and be productive and in good cheer all day!

What if I told you I had the magic recipe?

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, eat whole grain foods, avoid saturated fats and eat more plant oils, eat less red meat and more chicken and fish, drink enough water, drink less alcohol and avoid stimulants, breath properly, maintain a positive attitude, be true to your self and exercise. Voila, healthy happy you!

(Now like any good recipe, it looks pretty simple, don’t be fooled by the simplicity, remember the magic is in the technique, not the ingredients!)

The magic:

The biggest reason for failing in health is usually procrastination, and the primary reason for procrastination is usually overwhelm. We don’t know where to start. So here’s a thought and a guaranteed method for success.

It’s called the 10 % Principle. The 10 % Principle is a philosophy or way of life. Simply it involves doing 10 % more of the things you know are good for you and move you towards your health and life goals and 10% less of the things that you know don’t serve you. Every day. If you just do 10% more today than you did yesterday, that’s an improvement. Keep that up and you have changed your life, in a habit forming sustainable way.

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Who would have believed scoring 1/10 could save your life?

Let’s look at some examples of where you could get started:

If you are relying on coffee to get you through the day, everyday. Then start by reducing coffee in your diet by 10%. Initially this could simply be, having one day without coffee every 10 days. Straight away that’s a 10% improvement, yet it is not incredibly difficult to implement. (You could apply this to alcohol too!)

If you don’t get enough exercise, start by including just 10% more physical activity into your day. Get up to change the channel, walk up the escalator instead of standing still. Choose a parking spot a little further away from the entrance.

If you battle with personal discipline, choose just one thing at the start of the day to achieve, and don’t go to bed until you have achieved it.

If chocolate is your weakness, start by not finishing the bar, make it your principle to only ever eat 90% of the chocolate bar, give a bite to a friend!

The 10 % Principle also works really well in reverse, you can plan to only eat junk or convenience foods 10 % of the time, but the rest of the time you take your own lunch to work or university. Keep “takeout” as an emergency or convenience option or a personal treat, but not a way of life.

If you keep taking small steps everyday, you can not help but move towards your goals, and it’s contagious, success breeds success, so as you start to achieve these small milestones on a day to day or weekly basis, you will feel more empowered to keep going.

”Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.” Samuel Smiles

Get started today, what will you do 10 % more or less of today to improve your life and empower yourself?

Here’s to health worth celebrating in 2009!

May
02

Reflections on Keeping a diet diary

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Wow, it was an interesting month for me keeping my diet diary on line. For those of you that did manage to sign up, I hope you got lots of useful ideas and tips from following my eating habits.

The experience really put me back in the client’s seat again and it was an incredibly rewarding and insightful experience for me.
I was reminded first hand of how time consuming it can be, and how disciplined you have to be to record it daily, otherwise you just can’t remember what you ate, even the day before. What was also interesting is how accountable you feel. I really was mindful of everything I was putting to my lips, knowing that I would have to “confess it” later. Generally I have a pretty healthy diet, so I am on autopilot and like most of you have a routine and a few habits of eating that I have developed over time. What was particularly interesting and useful for me in this exercise was to be able to reflect back on some of the not so great habits, or the triggers I have which might lead me to over eat or bring me to eat foods I wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

I realised how much of my time I spend in coffee shops or in meetings, and how if I wasn’t careful how easily it would be to overindulge or get caught in the trap of “eating because its there”. In most instances, I was able to make a healthier choice, and it is these little choices and behaviours that will be health promoting.

AND, when I suffered from an unpleasant symptom I was able to look back over the last few recordings and get a pretty good idea of what had made my nose run, or my ears ring or my stomach bloated, or make me feel suddenly exhausted or suddenly giddy.

I was reminded of how advantageous planning ahead is, how often I am driving around or out and about and how wonderful it was when I was rushing or not able to have a meal, to eat the fruit or nuts that I had taken with me to snack on and keep my energy levels up.

Everything in moderation, including moderation!

And importantly I realised that I very much live by an 80% of the time principle: do the “right” thing 80% of the time, choose healthy options most of the time, as and when you can, and then let your hair down or give in some of the time!

Which reminds me of another great quote:
“Nothing is more detrimental to your health, than an overcare of it!”

We have lots of fun at our healthy cooking parties!
(And some great ideas on how to get those 2 and 5 in tastefully!)

Here is a short clip of us making a delicious and very sexy salad:  Rocket, Fig and Goats Cheese

Come along to our next one!

http://www.ivegotlife.com.au/healthy-cooking-parties

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Food after allergies!  Finally a Party Catering for People with Food sensitivities!

Cooking Party!

Get inspired with great allergen free recipes and stop feeling like you are missing out on all the good stuff! 

Lisa Vance, International Nutritionist with certificate in cordon Bleu

Cookery brings you “Food without the Pain and Discomfort!”

(Lisa will show you how to prepare delicious Gluten, dairy and egg free cooking).

Wheat, Dairy and Egg are amongst the top 10 most common allergens that plague people’s lives, you may be sensitive to these foods without even realising it. 

 How would you know?

o       Can’t lose weight

o       Sinusitis

o       Ringing in the ears

o       Indigestion

o       IBS

o       Bloating

o       Diarrhoea

o       Acne

o       ADD/ADHD

 Come along and enjoy an evening of fun, food, and inspiration:

Touch, taste and experience the pleasure of delicious and nutritious food!

Places limited so confirm your place today, by hitting reply!

Fri, 24 April, at 6.30pm, Brendale 

$35 per mouth

Don’t miss out, book your place today.

Click here if you would like to join us: Yes Please!

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Mar
31

Protected: Lisa’s Diary

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Mar
30

Healthy Cooking Demonstration

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Come and Join the Party!

This month: April

Sexy Salads! (Scantily dressed!)
Wed, 8 April, at 6pm

Salads that look good enough to eat! Exciting tasty salads that not only look and taste great but will leave you feeling vibrant, energetic and guilt free!

Where: Merendi Health and Wellness Brendale, 4/255 Leitchs Road

Cost: $25 per mouth

Food after allergies! Cooking with Allergies made easy!
Fri, 24 April, at 6pm

Do you or does someone in your family have allergies. Get inspired with great allergy free recipes and stop feeling like you are missing out on all the good stuff!

Places limited, please Email Us to book!

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