A New Year’s Resolution?

A severe case of cabin fever has been averted. The weather being inclement of late has not been inviting me out for my usual constitutional. I have totally overdosed on Poirot, Marple and Carry-Ons and have eaten too many mince-pies and other goodies (read “baddies”).

Today I have been for a walk! Alarm set for 07.45 and out by 08.00. What a relief. Wonderful fresh air and exercise – once my lungs and legs got used to the shock. There was very little traffic about but I was accompanied – a robin came with me part-way and red kites circled overhead. I returned feeling smug. So much better than feeling stuffed.

 

We are designed to walk above all other exercise. Walking regularly has many benefits most of which I have mentioned before but regular walking is a very doable activity – it won’t cost an arm and a leg (as long as you’re careful!), it will benefit your physical fitness and mental health and all you have to do in preparation is wear the right clothes and shoes and open the front door! What could be easier?

Why not make this your New Year’s resolution? It can only benefit your health and well-being.

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A Few Christmas Tips

Christmas food is wonderfully nutritious – potentially. Delectable meats, lots of gorgeous vegetables and colourful fruits, cheeses – and not forgetting our favourite Christmas day breakfast – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon! Try to buy organic if possible, but at least free-range for meats.

 

robinlargeWell oil the turkey (but not you yet!) and I would use goose or duck fat for this, or maybe butter. Turkey tends to be quite lean and needs the protection of added fat. Once the cooked turkey has rested for a while, transfer it to a large plate and use all the drippings to make the gravy – along with the cooking water from the vegetables. Chop the turkey liver and add to stuffing for its B vitamins. Roast potatoes in goose/duck fat or lard.

Cooking vegetables breaks down the cell walls giving the gut flora an easier job to do so don’t just show them the water – cook until soft, but not mushy. This will reduce some of the rather unpleasant digestive side effects, as will not overdoing the root veg!

Always use the turkey bones to make stock for soup in the days following. Humble though it may sound, the turkey broth will contain lots of beneficial minerals and vitamins as well as tasting fabulous. Puree leftover vegetables and some of the stuffing into the soup – waste nothing!

Keep sugary foods and starchy foods to a minimum. These are the culprits where weight gain is concerned. Try to have these just once a day and preferably not last thing at night.

Enjoy cheeses – lots of protein, calcium, fat-soluble vitamins and if the cheese is well-made, beneficial bacteria. Hold the biscuits and serve with celery or apple/pear slices.

My weakness is the pudding and I will have some although not after Christmas dinner! At breakfast time on Boxing day, I will fry some in butter and serve it with raw double cream. And boy, it will be enjoyed! A walk an hour or two later will also be enjoyed to make sure it does not settle on the hips!

Other advice – get plenty of sleep, make lists, employ helpers so that you are not doing everything, ensure that the turkey is properly cooked and refrigerate or freeze leftovers as soon as possible. Remember dinner time is when you say it is, it does not have to be 1pm. We usually have lunch at 3pm as this allows people to have a leisurely morning. This is often the time I go for a walk – veg prepared, turkey in the oven and off I go!

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Please take a few minutes to read this article. So often it needs someone who has suffered from an illness to really get the message across and this is one of those. Animal fat is good for us.

Happy Christmas everyone! See you in the New Year.

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Wellbeing for the Mind – part 3

Stress -  “when life changes from normal to something abnormal to us”

Coping with life seems to cause us many problems. At the end of the day, this is what often causes our moods to change – when life changes from the normal to something abnormal to us – the life experiences. Here are some examples; illness, moving house, separation and divorce, the death of someone close and then life without that person, redundancy, retirement and so on. On an even more serious level, there is abuse, violence, deprivation, disability (although the impact of this will vary between individuals), homelessness etc.

All of these situations fit into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see part one) so in my view, the best way to tackle treatment is at this grass roots level. I am not a therapist with experience in this area and I believe that in some of these situations, help is going to be needed in one form or another and often from another person/people. Sadly, the usual sequence of events is that you feel out of control, you have time off work, you feel guilty about this so you see a doctor. You are given medication. This gives you hope and you return to work – who may be pressurising you to do so, but the very basic issues have not been addressed. It is highly likely that your problems will resurface at some time. The drugs have side effects which are at best unpleasant and at worst, detrimental to overall health. This report shows that drugs may not be necessary.

LotusWhen times are tough, be good to yourself. These measures do not have to be expensive. They don’t sound powerful in the way that drugs do, but their effects are far-reaching if you approach them in the right way. If you are given medication, you expect it to work don’t you? You must approach other measures in the same way – they will work and you will benefit but for the long-term, not just for the course of tablets. Time is a great healer and whether you are on a course of tablets or doing something less risky – putting space between you now and an adverse event holds the most benefit. You may as well do something positive for your overall health.

This is a passage taken from the link above, about the Key Factors to Overcoming Depression:
(“Me” and “my” refer to Dr. Joseph Mercola – not me personally)

 

Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.

Address your stress — Constant stress can lead to depression which is a very serious condition. However it is not a “disease.” Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of balance.

This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as a “mental illness,” you think you need to take a drug to fix it (and so do doctors). In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.

Meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes all you need to do is get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a system that can help you address emotional issues that you may not even be consciously aware of. For this, my favorite is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). However, if you have depression or serious stress, I believe it would be best to consult with a mental health professional who is also an EFT practitioner to guide you.

Eat a healthy diet — Another factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing depression. An important observation has been made regarding people suffering schizophrenia and their gut health. The same has been observed in people diagnosed with a condition on the autistic spectrum.

Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats — I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be a very important factor in helping depression.

Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

I couldn’t have put it better so I have just cut and pasted it. I would add a couple of things too. Use your friends and talk to them – just as you have done for them and will do in the future. Revisit hobbies or maybe even go to an evening class. Not only will you make friends, but you will learn all the time – this is positive. Use distractions.To the diet recommendations, I would add fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir. These can help normalise the gut microbes. Dysbiosis (“difficult life”) in the gut is associated with many health issues, including the health of the mind.

For exercise why not just walk? It’s free and always interesting – whether it’s country or town. Observe all the while – don’t just look around you, really see the birds, gardens, people and so on. These give you connection and belonging. Don’t forget to greet the people you meet – this connection can make an enormous difference, not just to you but to them as well. Walking barefoot has huge health benefits too – a physical as well as spiritual connection to the earth.

There will be times when professional help is needed. It is of course, your choice where this comes from but do consider this – here is a link to the Human Givens Institute. Their help is very much based on problem solving and does not usually require more than a couple of appointments.

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