Be Kind To Yourself

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I have never, ever, written an article or a Blog in my life (unless you count the copious newsletter articles I have written as teacher!) But I got thinking about this and this topic is something I am becoming so passionate about that I really feel that I should give it a go, even if it just once! Even if it just lets one other person relax, reflect and think, “actually I am wonderful. I don’t need to lose weight to be a better person.” 

I am a 40-year-old wife of an incredible guy, mother of two spunky, easily-loveable kids and a bit of everything else: teacher (Assistant Principal), part-time cook, tidier, taxi driver, gardener etc. I love wine, reading, lifestyle shows, games, camping, walking and socialising. Sound like anyone else? I’m not special, I’m not overly ambitious – I just enjoy life. But as I grow older (and oh so wiser!) I am starting to think that this love of life could have been easily lost if I had continued focussing on the things that didn’t matter – my weight, how I look, how I fit into my clothes.

Now before I go any further I need to provide context – I am what I would consider very average! Depending on the brand I am usually a size 12 but if you were to take a look in my cupboard and drawers you would find garments ranging from size 8 to size 14. Years ago I would have also had size 16 in there because I preferred to hide curves rather than show them off. My BMI is in the overweight range (I’m 168cm tall) and so to be at the top range of healthy I would have to lose 6kg. But get this…..since the age of 18 and not including four pregnancies (two miscarriages) I have only every fluctuated between approximately 68-78 kgs. One would think after all the programs, meal plans, fad diets I have been on I would be far lighter or heaver. So, I decided to stop. Stop the stress. Stop the worry. Stop the committing to things that didn’t suit my life style. Stop comparing myself to others. I decided to be KIND to myself.

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I don’t believe epiphany is the right term but over the past three or four years I have certainly had a change in tune regarding my body image and there is no exact time or moment that can really be attributed for this alteration in my beliefs. I just got SICK of worrying all the time about how I looked and what I could do to alter that. I was exasperated with obsessing over meal plans and points and inflicting these strict guidelines on others. I used to feel embarrassed of my tummy. I hated my arms. I thought my nose was too big. I thought my clothes looks silly on me. All that time and emotional energy spent on worrying about something that really didn’t change my day-to-day life.

I chose to be kind, I chose balance. I now enjoy many healthy foods and I enjoy items that some would consider treats, “sometimes foods”, “only on celebrations” type foods. I love to walk but I hate the gym. I walk copious amount of stairs at work each day but I also enjoy lounging on my couch with a book or a good reality show (if there is such a thing!).  I drink brilliantly healthy green juices every day that have really helped me with my digestive system but I also love a chilled glass (or three) of Sauvignon blanc. I choose clothes that suit me and my shape. I choose exercise options that raise my heart rate but don’t make me want to vomit! I choose to eat things that me feel good: tasty, non-bloating and fresh produce.

I seek advice when required but don’t obsess over it. I spoke to a wonderful friend who is a nutritionist who has provide me with invaluable advice in term of types of foods I can eat to feel good and look after my body. She’s an inspiration as she too is about balance; food choices, exercise and work-life. Mental health and wellbeing is just so vitally important and beating yourself up because of eating a donut is really not worth it! Trusting someone who understands this balance is essential.

I have read a lot of articles and auto-biographies from celebrities, people dying of terminal diseases and inspirational people in the past few years and the message from all of them; “eat the cake, drink the wine.” They also have other personal messages – be as healthy as you can for you, your body, your situation. We are not the same but one thing we do have in common is wanting to feel good and happy. I want that for me, my family and my friends. I want to be strong role-model based on my actions and attitude, not someone who is miserable because how I look in the mirror.

 Peita and I catching ups over cocktails - good friends and balance xx

Peita and I catching ups over cocktails - good friends and balance xx

Now before I have people jumping up and down screaming at me about inner-health, my organs, my skin etc. etc. I know a lot about healthy eating and good choices. I know that your body needs nutrients and everyone is different. I know vitamins and minerals come in all types of packages - natural and produced. All I am trying to say is – be KIND! Do what is right for you but don’t beat yourself up what you have or haven’t eaten in a day. If you want to go to the gym to tone, do it! If you want to commit to a vegan diet because it suits your ethics and makes you feel great, do it! If you want to prepare for a marathon by running every day and eating a specifically planned-diet, do it! But please don’t hate yourself for what you look like or what you weigh.

I really am very lucky. I am not denying it. I have a brilliant family, extremely supportive beautiful friends and my life has progressed without too many disasters. Some of you may be thinking, “yeah right, she’s got easy” and maybe I do but I’ll ask you this: no matter how easy or hard your life is, why would adding the extra stress of self-bashing about your weight and looks be beneficial? At some point we all have family issues, financial concerns, job worries as well as the everyday stresses of work. We are busy ferrying kids around, worrying about their health and wellbeing plus the multitude of other things that can impact our lives positively or negatively. There is no one answer to cope with stress and of course we all do it differently. My go-to would definitely be those chilled glasses of wine, particularly with some great friends but I still come back to this; life is hard, life is challenging and life is also bloody grand so let’s not add one more negative, self-loathing element if we don’t have to.

Today I have purchased the ingredients to make some cracking, delicious salads that will be for dinner and lunches this week – meal planning – go me! It’s not so I can focus on losing that five kilograms that would see me be slimmer, it’s so I can be organised, enjoy what I am eating and know what I am putting into my body will be nutritional and energy rich for another busy week. I will also take the kids to the beach, go for a walk and then enjoy some fish and chips and a glass of wine. Balance – foods I like, foods that are good for me, family time, relaxation and exercise. That’s what is right for me, right now. 

I’ll probably look at my body in the mirror in bathers and do a slight shudder but I won’t self-hate, I won’t not enjoy my time at the beach and I won’t start planning the strict diet I HAVE to go on to look like what some might see as ideal. I will continue walking, I will continue eating a range of food options and I will continue making health a priority but I WON’T kick my self for not being “good” last weekend. I won’t cover up just because I’m not as toned a I was before. I won’t sulk or feel embarrassed and annoyed that I have a bit of extra weight around my tummy. I’ll enjoy my family. I’ll enjoy my relaxing time at the beach. I’ll enjoy the wine and my life. I’ll be kind to myself.

Be kind to yourselves.

 Peita Cooper

Leaky Gut, what on earth is it? And the 5 ‘Rs’ to healing it!

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This term sounds pretty horrible and a bit scary when you really think about it?  Where is my gut leaking from and to where?  Unfortunately more and more Australians are being diagnosed with, or are showing up with symptoms of Leaky Gut.  It’s not a disease or illness in itself but is a group of symptoms, imbalances and inflammation that has a large number of causes and really make you feel pretty crappy all round.

Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, affects the lining in our small intestine where the nutrients from our glorious food are designed to be absorbed.  Tiny holes in the lining of our intestine appear, which are normally very tight junctions and stop any large molecules passing through to our blood system.  When these holes are irritated or inflamed they become damaged and then loosen up, allowing larger particles like bacteria, toxins, fungi or undigested foods to seep out into our bloodstream. 

Our immune system sees these leaked substances as foreign bodies that shouldn’t be there so a full-blown attack is launched to get rid of them but this causes inflammation.  The problem with this attack is that the chronic inflammatory response destroys not only the foreign body but also our normal healthy tissues. 

Leaky gut causes inflammation throughout the whole body, not just in the gut and this can lead to a variety of other conditions or diseases.  IBS, celiac, crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases (ie the body attacks itself), depression, anxiety, diabetes (Type 2), obesity, dementia, food intolerances and allergies are just a few.  

Symptoms of Leaky gut may look completely unrelated to the gut and could manifest itself in aching joints, arthritis, exhaustion, bloating, shortness of breath, brain fog, indigestion, poor immunity, acne, eczema, asthma, depression, IBS or a diagnosis of auto immune disease. 

So what causes leaky gut I hear you ask?  Sorry to say buuuut it’s our Western diet of highly processed and sugary foods is playing a big contributor.  Other major factors that can cause this condition is ingesting allergenic foods a parasite, excessive exercise or excessive alcohol intake, toxicity from our environment like the chemicals in our household cleaners or our shampoo’s and soaps. Chronic stress can be a big issue for many people as stress changes the way as well as the effectiveness of our stomach to be able to digest foods properly. Medications, painkillers, OTC (oral contraceptive pill) and antibiotics are also major culprits and change the way our microbiome (good gut bacteria) works.  I told you there were a large number of causes.

Can you heal from Leaky gut?  Can you restore the “Gut Integrity?”  Yes you can but there are a number of factors to look at:

1. Remove any irritants - processed foods, poor quality fats, sugars any parasites, infections and allergy foods.

2.  Replace with whole foods, nutrients, digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile salts to increase stomach acid.

3.  Re-inoculate: Beneficial probiotics and prebiotics from foods or supplement if necessary.

4.  Repair: Using foods like broths, gelatin, healthy fats, fermented foods contain great sources of pre and probiotics, fatty fish with good omega-3 fats, lots of vegetables and green leafies. grass-fed meats.

5. Rebalance: Stress management, sleep, exercise, self-care, eating habits and belief systems.

If any of this sounds like you or you’d like to discuss your gut health further, book your appointment or your complimentary 30 minute discovery call so that we get you feeling more of your old self again. 

 

 

 

7 good mood foods

You’ve lost your Mojo and you’re in a funk.  The day to day routines are getting you down and feeling overwhelmed.  Your mind and body aren’t doing what you expect them to do and you just want to get off the merrie-go-round and call time out!!!

I too know that feeling and the overwhelm that comes with it can set me off to a pity party the moment just one more “job” is added to my list.  My work, family and training suffer cause I just can’t keep up, or my body isn’t working the way it used to – see pity party!!

We can all feel this way at times and this is when I turn to my 7 Good Mood Food’s. 

There’s a mountain of evidence from researchers that tells us our gut really is our second brain. The bacteria in our gut plays an essential role in protecting our intestines and providing a strong barrier against toxins and bad bacteria. They improve absorption of nutrients from our food and activate neural pathways that travel between our gut and our brain.  So what we eat ultimately affects our mood, risk of depression and anxiety and our cognitive function.

Good mood food is so important for us to lead happy and vibrant lives, so when the doldrums hit me, these are the foods I turn to.  Not only are the good for me, they’re comfort food and tastes bl**dy awesome.

Blueberries - With a high content of antioxidants known as flavonoids, blueberries help activate brain pathways associated with better cognition and less cellular aging.

Salmon – An excellent source of Omega3 fatty acids, selenium and Vitamin B12 which are all associated with reducing the incidence of depression and anxiety.  These fats are powerful in improving the body’s cell ability to take up essential hormones, including those involved in mood regulation.  Eat it anyway and everyway you can!!!!

Probiotics – Fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and certain pickled vegetables, contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have been shown to effect the neurotransmitter GABA that reduces anxiety and stress hormones.

Greens – Popeye might have been onto something with all that spinach. Foods high in folic acid and vitamin B such as spinach and broccoli have been proven to help ward against depression, fatigue and insomnia.  Sautéed in butter and garlic and seasoned with S&P, just delish!!

Nuts - Full of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that’s in short supply when you’re feeling sad, anxious or depressed. Nuts are also full of antioxidants, protein and healthy fats. I’m love walnuts, almonds and cashews — just be sure to be mindful of how many you eat.

Mushrooms - Have good levels of selenium and vitamin B6.  While the entire B vitamin complex family is critical to ensuring our physical and psychological health, B6 is particularly great for improving your mood and feeling good. B6 impacts the production of serotonin and neurotransmitters they are associated with a positive mood and reducing stress naturally.

Dark Chocolate – I couldn’t leave this one out. Reviews indicate cocoa can shake a bad mood to it’s core and can be protective against depression.  Sipping antioxidant rich hot cocoa is so comforting and increases feelings of contentment and happiness.  Since sugars have a negative effect on brain health, choose the dark varieties and keep the potions to one or two squares per day.

Remember that food and nourishing your body is only one part of lifting your mood.  Exercise, fresh air, self care and managing stress all go a long way to get you out of that funk.  And don’t forget your friends and family. Catch up with them and have a good laugh, you’ll be surprised at how good it feels.

If you’re feeling like you want more help to give your body and mind the right nutrients to support your good moods, make an appointment and we’ll find exactly what works for you.  Enjoy your Good Mood Food!!

 

PCOS, diet, health and wellbeing

PCOS, diet, health and wellbeing.

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PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a hot topic lately and with up to 20% of Australian woman of reproductive age being affected by this condition, it’s no wonder.  Its symptoms can cause significant distress to woman, yet up to 70% with PCOS still remain undiagnosed.  Could this be you?

PCOS is characterised as an endocrine (hormonal) condition with disturbances of the luteinising, insulin and male hormones causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Symptoms of irregular or absence of the menstrual cycle, acne, weight gain, excess hair growth, anxiety and depression, skin pigmentation, sleep apnoea, poor gut health, weak joints and nails and infertility. With most traditional treatments only focusing on the symptoms and not the cause, you might think things look a little bleak for long term health and feeling good.

It’s not just all about hormones though. Many other factors play a part in this condition like the contraceptive pill, what and how we eat, your physical make up and stress.  Other important factors that play a part are insulin resistance, synthetic oestrogens; these come from our environment, and food allergies.  If gut health is compromised, the absorption of nutrients for healing, nourishment, hormone balance and neurotransmitter pathways (which send messages throughout our bodies) is also compromised.

But don’t worry; it’s not all bad.  Diet and exercise is key. Incorporating a healthy eating plan, stress management, reduction of weight and including at least 30-40 minutes of exercise most days can start the healing process. This will have an impact on reducing your inflammation, insulin resistance and to balance hormones.

Does that sound a bit daunting though?? Don’t know where to start? You don’t have to go this alone. We can support and teach you the methods for your long-term solutions in treating PCOS.  Our Clinical & Holistic Nutritionist can create an individually designed program for you.  We’ll help with:

·       Manage symptoms such as irregular cycles, excess hair growth and acne

·       Improve insulin resistance

·       Repairing of the gut

·       Individualised Food and Nutrient plan

·       Balance hormones

·       Reducing anxiety, depression and stress

·       Exercise and lifestyle adjustments

Take back control of your health.  Let’s find the cause not just treat the symptoms.  

5 tips to help you beat those winter colds

5 tips to help you beat the winter colds

It seems like the winter cold and flu season has hit early this year.  My family has already been affected and many people I speak to have already been impacted by “the worst cold I can remember” and are worried about the rest of winter.  The last thing we as Mums, Dads, workers, carers or kids need is to be struck down with these nasty viruses that turn our lives and schedules upside down.  We’re all busy with life, running around from work to meetings to sporting activities, school drop off and the rest of it, that we can very quickly become run down and start to feel that ominous tickle in the back of the throat that says “watch out – here comes your cold, its time to rest”.

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The most common question I’m getting in clinic at the moment is how can I boost my immune system to try and avoid another cold or flu or how can I reduce the time I’m sick.  Well here are my top 5 immune system boosters and support that you can use this winter to help keep you and your family well:

  1. Eat foods rich in Vitamin C like pineapple, oranges, kiwi fruit, celery and broccoli etc. They are high in antioxidants and bromelain and have a major role in preventing and reducing the time of a cold.  They demonstrate significant anti-inflammatory effects in reducing swelling, sore throat and sinusitis.
  2. Make sure your nutrition on a daily basis is good with lots of whole foods. Reducing your sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake will go a long way in supporting your immune system too.
  3. Increase in garlic, onion, ginger, artichokes, raw honey, lemon and cinnamon are great to ward of a cold or even during. Their antimicrobial activity enhance our immune system. My go-to is this soothing immune boosting “tea” when I feel a cold coming on:
    • 2½ cm slice of ginger
    • ¼ tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ lemon juiced
    • 1 cup hot water
  4. Get plenty of sleep. Our bodies do most of their repair work while we are asleep so if we’re not getting enough we will quickly become run down making it easier for a virus to infiltrate our weakened immune system.
  5. Wash your hands often. It doesn’t matter what line of work you are in or who you are around, if you are coming in contact with people who are contagious you are in the virus’ line of fire.  20 seconds of washing hands in hot or cold water is all it takes.

For more information on how to protect yourself this winter from colds and flu, book a Nutrition Consultation today.