Therapy Digest 05

Sport has dominated the whole of the UK for the past few weeks and although I’m not interested in football it has given me the opportunity to observe many aspects of the beautiful game from the dirty tactics of some of the teams to how our own waist-coated hero physically helped to lift his boys up from the ground after their semi-final defeat. I’ve learnt from Serena Williams too. I share some thoughts from recent media and whats been happening in my consulting room here in my latest Therapy Review.

Do you need surgery to love yourself?

Our body bears testament to our life. There’s no getting away from it.

The children we have borne; the life we have led and the joys and losses we’ve experienced are often writ large on our physical appearance. We carry our victories and our tragedy in the lines on our face and the curve of our back and belly.

Recently I read about Maureen Nolan, one of the Nolan Family who had pop success in the 1970s and 80s as part of an all-girl, all-sister singing troupe.
She’d revealed to the UK’s tabloid press about her plastic surgery to refresh her facial features after what she believed had been ten years of stress that had left its mark on her appearance.

She was pleased with the results and said she felt vindicated in undergoing elective surgery which went against her family’s wishes due to the risk factors involved.

So, can a knife erase the real stress and heartache of experiences and challenges that come with being alive?

Increasingly people think it can, and more and more cosmetic surgery is being sought by younger and younger women and by a growing number of men too.

Does plastic surgery work to lift emotions as well as it does to lift eye-lids? Can smoothing out worry lines effectively remove negative thinking or the limiting beliefs a person has about themselves?
Can having lip-fillers make a person love themselves more?

Plastic surgery does seem to improve some people’s self-esteem, and they often report feeling lighter and happier in themselves. However, it rarely lasts indefinitely as many of the surgical enhancements have an expiry date when they will need re-doing or topping up – depending on the procedures.

Also, however fabulous you look or however many procedures you have to improve your looks that become your benchmark, your new ‘normal’ and that soon gets taken for granted.

Weight loss, resulting from adopting changes to eating and lifestyle or post-bariatric surgery is another way that people can radically change their appearance hoping it will make them feel happier and love themselves more.

Carrying excess weight is a manifestation of a body out of balance. A therapy approach would be to bring yourselves back into balance so that it is safe to release your excess weight.

The goal would be to feel at home and safe in yourself not just be slimmer and lighter but to honour and care for yourself to the best of your ability.

It is only by entirely being comfortable being you will that you allow yourself to thrive. Self-love doesn’t mean you lose the drive to get your excess weight off and stick with being fat. Self-love doesn’t necessarily mean you will be content not to have a facelift or breast enlargement or whatever else you want to have done.

It does mean though that at the core of you will be a healthy amount of self-love so that once you’ve lost your excess weight or had your chin tucked or eyelids lifted you can go on living a full life and not sweating the small stuff.

It can be helpful to acknowledge how little you are at peace with yourself by writing it all down. By shining a light onto these self-critical, self-assassinating beliefs, you can take the first step in taking back your power from how your body looks to who you are.

In our book ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ my colleague Liz Hogon and I suggest you list all the things you like about your body and then list all the things you dislike about your body.

Use the actual words and phrases you say about yourself or the words others have said to you to describe yourself physically.

Write down the praise and the admonishments.
As you do write your list make a note of the emotions or memories that surface. Take your time with this.

You carry the weight of your self-criticism and the emotional load of the harsh words and the physical trespasses others have made against you.
Here are some examples of like and dislike of other clients. Make your lists as comprehensive as you can.

The ‘like’ list
I like my eyes
My ankles are slim
I have narrow wrists

The ‘hate’ list
My breasts get me too much attention
I am never strong enough to protect myself
I hate my big stomach
Being small means being weak

By focussing on writing your list, you may have the revelation that it is not your physical appearance in isolation that causes you discomfort but the emotional connection you have made with your negative judgements or the judgements of others.

This work shows you the emotional undercurrent of how you feel about your physical self. So, before you choose the knife do the work needed to explore and re-appraise your judgments so that you can see them for the B.S thoughts they are.

If that feels impossible for you to do alone, I have therapy strategies that make your process of re-evaluation and self-acceptance much more compelling and effective. If you want some help with loving yourself, then call me for a chat.

Why does weight loss stall even post-WLS?

Weight loss that stalls, plateaus or ends in a person gaining back more weight than they originally lost are all forms of yo-yo dieting – a see-saw pattern of weight loss versus weight gain that can go on for years.

Yo-yo dieting when a person is focussed on losing weight and then gives up is never about being greedy, and never about a lack of willpower. It is, however, a repetitive cycle of the behaviour of the emotional eater who self-sabotages their potential weight loss success due to a number of key behavioural habits and responses, many of which exist below conscious awareness.

There are many examples of when self-sabotaging behaviour around food continues after Weight Loss Surgery (WLS).

It seems that the more people who commit to surgery without fully resolving their emotional reasons for bingeing, compulsive sugar cravings, zoned out or mindless grazing, and disordered eating in general then the more people who post-WLS will continue to struggle with emotional eating – even after a surgical intervention.

Liz Hogon and I specialise in resolving emotional eating and we see a growing number of clients post-WLS in our individual practices in London, England and Melbourne, Australia.

What kind of challenges to successful weight loss do we see with our clients who have undergone bariatric surgery?

A key one would be the continuation of endless over thinking about food. Remember to qualify for surgery on the NHS in the UK a would-be candidate for WLS would be morbidly obese and probably have other co-morbidities too such as diabetes.

Many years spent focussing on food takes up an inordinate amount of headspace. Food for emotional eaters can be an effective distraction from other issues they may have to address if they weren’t thinking so much about what they last ate or what they will eat next.

Continuing to over-think about food post surgery seems natural for many of our clients. They benefit from therapy to reframe their thinking and resolve their fears of letting go of a strategy that helped keep them distracted but that equally played a part in their weight gain in the first place.

Some compulsive behaviours around food can also continue after surgery. Even feelings of dissatisfaction about the amount of weight loss that is achieved post-WLS are an aspect of the negative self-beliefs that can dominate the thought processes and feelings of someone in the grip of unresolved emotions. These negative self-beliefs undermine a person’s sense of empowerment in their own destiny and helps to keep them feeling powerless and overwhelmed.

Feeling powerless can be a familiar feeling for many of our clients that can go back to their earliest years. Therapeutically it is tremendously powerful to reframe those old familiar feelings and let them go.

In therapy changes take place, and belief systems that no longer serve a person can be released and replaced with a more positive, and helpful framework.

Liz and I have found from our work that many of the original emotional drivers or triggers to disordered eating along with the reasons for carrying excess weight in the first place are below conscious awareness. We individually work with our clients to erase those old patterns of behaviour and that it is then, and only then that the therapy work can successfully transform how a person thinks and feels about themselves.

We believe this work is key to aligning the sub-conscious mind with the goals a person physically wants to achieve.

Liz and I believe that it is essential to resolve, and release the issues around emotional eating so that people, either with or without WLS can finally allow themselves to successfully lose weight, and maintain their weight loss.

If your weight loss has stalled and you are wondering how your limiting beliefs are getting in your way, either post-WLS or not, then you might need help to reframe your thinking and erase beliefs that no longer serve you. If this resonates with you then please book an obligation free discovery with me. The link is on this page.

Living in the Age of Sugar

Sugar comes disguised under about 50 different names and the food scientists are adding more all the time. If you are eating something with a label on it, then you are going to need to read it closely.

If you take sugar in your hot drinks, now would be a great opportunity to retrain your palette. It won’t take very long for you really to relish your drinks without the added sweetness.

To aid the transition, consider adding a slice of lemon to your cup of tea or consider upgrading your regular brand of tea to a select, single-estate brew. Using sugar is often a way of masking poor water quality too. Use a water filter jug to improve the quality of your tap water.

Sugar has a truly negative effect on your general health, weight loss potential and many specific health conditions.

Ultimately, we recommend that added sugar stays permanently excluded from your food choices.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading cardiologist based in London, is the science director of Action on Sugar. He has been instrumental in leading the debate about the public health implications of excess sugar consumption.

He advocates that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that not only is added sugar an unnecessary source of additional calories but there is emerging evidence that the effects of excess sugar are harmful independent of body weight.

He referred to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It revealed that adults in the USA who consume more than 25 per cent of their calories from added sugar trebled their risk of cardiovascular disease. This was compared with those who consumed less than 10 per cent from added sugar, even among the non- obese (Yang et al, 2014).

We live in the age of sugar, with a myriad of sugar derivatives and substitutes found everywhere in modern processed foods.

When you start reading food labels you realise that sugars, hidden in plain sight, can be found almost everywhere, often in the least expected foods, from bread to soups to sauces.

The only foolproof way of avoiding them is to diligently read labels and be vigilant with regard to what you choose to buy. It is an important health and weight loss consideration to reduce the amount of sugar consumed.

It slips in under the radar in so many processed foods, of which one of the worst offenders is sweet drinks like root beer, ginger ale and cola. A typical 340 ml/12 oz serving contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and a typical teenager often drinks two cans a day. The average American eats almost 23 teaspoons of sugar each day, half of which is stirred into tea and coffee or baked into cakes and cookies.

Consider your own dependency on sweet things in your daily food choices. We are born with a natural attraction to a sweetness. Breast milk, a human’s first sustenance, has a sweet taste to make it irresistible to a newborn
 baby, and for many people their love affair with all things sweet continues throughout their lives without censure.

Eating sugar stimulates the same pleasure centres in the brain that respond to the class A drugs heroin and cocaine. All appetising foods cause a similar response to varying degrees, but nowhere near as pronounced an effect as a hit of sugar.

The way the human brain responds to sweetness goes back almost to the beginning of humanity itself – some twenty-odd million years ago when 
a craving for the sweetness of fruit in the autumn was a prerequisite for survival during the harsh, lean winters.

Around this time, some of our ancestors developed an ability to take the fructose from the autumn fruit abundance and, due to a genetic mutation, became efficient at storing even small amounts of fructose (fruit sugar) as fat. Imagine how that genetic advantage was key to survival when winter arrived and all food sources were hard to come by. Now, take that premise forward to today; that same genetic ‘advantage’ for metabolising fructose and storing it as fat is still prevalent in an era when we are literally awash with food.

It does not help that sugar masquerades under many different names. You can only be on the lookout for it if you know what to look for.

Sugar by any other name is still sugar

Peruse the (sample) list below and consider the many alternatives on offer to the white granulated table sugar you currently consume. We challenge you to find a substitute which provides more nutrients than the harm consuming sugar causes. Spoiler Alert: There isn’t one.

Agave, aka ‘agave nectar’, is marketed and sold as a healthy alternative to sugar but in reality is composed of 80 per cent fructose which is more than is found in HFCS mentioned in the list bel. Stocked in health food stores with its relatively high-price tag, you can be fooled into thinking you are making a wise choice when in reality it’s just another laboratory-produced syrup almost entirely free of nutrients.

Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener produced by cooking sprouted barley malt. It is dark brown in colour, with a pleasant malty taste. It is about half as sweet as honey. It is a natural product that contains some minerals and vitamins.

Beet sugar – About 30% of the world’s white sugar is made from processing this common agricultural crop into sugar. The advantage
it has over cane sugar is that it can be grown in temperate climates in poor soil conditions and doesn’t need the tropical conditions of cane sugar. After processing, the sugar from beets is white. If a producer wants to make brown sugar it has to be dyed with molasses from cane sugar. This conversion from white to brown isn’t 100% reliable as the molasses doesn’t fully penetrate each grain of sugar, leaving an uneven distribution of flavour. For this reason, it is avoided by home bakers and cake makers who favour the more reliable and expensive cane sugar.

Brown rice syrup, aka ‘rice syrup’ or ‘rice malt’: Even though it is made from brown rice, this syrup is still a refined sugar. It is actually higher in calories than ordinary sugar, varying (depending on the brand) between 55 and 75 calories per tablespoon compared with 48 calories in table sugar.

Brown sugar: There are no discernible health benefits to swapping from white sugar to brown sugar and although it contains some trace minerals they are present in only tiny amounts.
Buttered sugar, aka ‘buttercream’ or ‘butter fondant’ is a well-beaten mixture of icing sugar and butter for use in cake making for fillings, toppings or piped as decoration. It can be home-made (a ratio of 2:1 sugar to butter) or commercially bought and may include additional artificial colours and flavourings.

Cane juice (or cane juice crystals) is often sold as a healthy alternative to white sugar but is in effect the same as eating standard sugar in syrup form.

Cane juice (evaporated) is derived from sugar cane syrup to make a highly concentrated sweetener. Also, know as ‘panela’ or ‘raspadura’, the Latin American version is basically just pure sugar.

Cane sugar Is a slightly less processed version of white sugar. It retains a colour closer to that of its natural state but should still be treated with caution and does not impart any additional health benefits.

Caramel aka ‘toffee’, aka ‘butterscotch’, are all types of confectioners’ products made by mixing varying quantities of sugar, cream and butter. Different cooking temperatures change the consistency from soft and chewy to crunchy.

Confectioner’s sugar aka ‘Icing sugar’ is powdered sugar made from white cane sugar used to top cakes with icing and frosting preparation as well as a wide range of baked goods; it has a high-calorie count and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing spikes in blood sugar levels.

Carob syrup is made from carob seeds and pulp. It is mildly sweet and is used in baking as a substitute for chocolate.

Caster sugar is simply more finely ground than standard white granulated sugar. (Its name comes from the Victorian era ‘sugar caster’ that was used to sprinkle sugar on food.) It can come from sugar cane or from sugar beet and consists purely of sucrose (see below).

Coconut sugar is often promoted as a healthier alternative to table sugar as it does contain some trace elements and nutrients but it has none of the healthy aspects of coconut oil, milk or water.

Corn syrup, corn syrup solids and corn sweetener are commonly used as sweeteners in processed foods and powdered beverage mixes; a large and growing proportion of corn grown in the US, and now the world over, is genetically modified. Genetic modification is generally associated with intensive use of herbicides and pesticides. Corn syrup is much higher in fructose (see below) than table sugar.

Crystalline fructose is made from corn. It is increasingly commonly found in baked goods and ice cream. It is chemically different
from its popular predecessor, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
which consumers are increasingly avoiding. However, crystalline fructose physiologically has the same effects and can be the cause of gastrointestinal upset and aggravate symptoms in individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). [Ref: Fructose Malabsorption and Intolerance: Effects of Fructose with and without Simultaneous Glucose Ingestion PMC3471321/ ]

Date sugar, as the name suggests, is made from macerated dates and is a less processed form of sugar. It uses are limited as it does not dissolve in water but has its uses in bread and baking.

Demerara sugar (and golden sugar, which is a more finely ground version) may have more nutrients than standard white sugar but be aware that any nutritional advantage is barely significant.

Dextran is a highly processed sugar often used as a food additive.

Dextrose is a simple sugar chemically identical to glucose, the sugar found in the bloodstream. As well as a common sweetener in a wide range of products, it has medical applications when dissolved in a solution and administered intravenously. The body is able to metabolise dextrose quickly as a source of energy.

Diastatic malt, produced from barley, is many times sweeter than standard sugar. It is associated with the salivary enzyme diastase which helps with the breakdown of sugars for absorption and can contribute to blood sugar spikes.

Erythritol is a sugar found naturally in pears, watermelon and grapes. It is used as a sweetener in chewing gum, some baked goods and drinks.

Ethyl malto’s scientific-sounding name should be warning enough that this laboratory-manufactured compound used in baked goods is completely artificial and has an unnaturally high sugar content.

Fructose occurs naturally in fruits and honey, which in our recent past would only have been available, and consumed, seasonally and sparingly. Now fructose is found in baked goods and sodas. It is one of the key sugars that has been indicated to be a major contributor to rising obesity and diabetes rates over the past several decades. As well as their modern-day role as an additive, fruits themselves have also been selectively bred to increase their sweetness by increasing the level of fructose they contain. Selectively bred apples and grapes, for instance, are almost unrecognisable from their original, natural varieties. Some varieties of small apple sold specifically as a healthy addition to children’s lunch boxes are often the worse culprits.

Fruit juice concentrates are made by removing water from fruit juice. The process also removes the scant nutrients which would be present in the freshly squeezed juice. However, all fruit juices, freshly squeezed or concentrated, are an unnatural way to consume the nutrients from fruit. Fruit is best consumed as whole fruits, in small quantities, and where possible it is best to choose traditional varieties of fruit that celebrate their natural sharp taste. Tropical fruits that have been picked unripe and then ripened artificially are particularly high in fructose.

Galactose is a derivative of the sugar in milk – lactose. It is found
in processed foods and fast foods. Even though it is a naturally occurring sugar, it has been observed to increase blood pressure and
is a contributing factor to diabetes. As a milk derivative, it may cause problems for people with a dairy intolerance. Glucose, like fructose, is found in sugar cane, fruits and honey and latterly in baked goods. It is also the simplest building block of carbohydrates so all carbohydrates consumed break down to become glucose for absorption, fuel and storage. Consumption of glucose has been linked to some heart diseases and the prevalence of obesity. Just as with fructose, this is a natural sugar. It is just not natural that it is consumed in such quantities.

Golden syrup is made from corn syrup. Drizzled over pancakes and desserts, it is comprised of three sugars – fructose, glucose and sucrose, which itself is broken down to become glucose in the human body.
HFCS or ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ is cheaper than sugar to manufacture and has replaced traditional corn sugar in a wide variety of products from jams to sauces, to soda pops, as well as fast foods, cereals and bread When you read HFCS on a product label, think twice and don’t buy it. The cheapness of HFCS has led to an increase in the availability of super-sized soda drinks with little or no additional cost to the manufacturer but delivering larger than ever portion
sizes laden with obesity-inducing quantities of sweetness. It is a controversial addition to the ‘frankenfood’ sugar arsenal, with large amounts of money spent by its advocates to prove it has no medical ill effects on the consumer. In paleo terms, it is to be avoided as one of the types of ingredient that did not exist 50 years ago. It is yet another modern additive invented by men and women working in laboratories to take advantage of US government-subsidised cheap corn crops. Remember from the fructose listing here that humans are genetically predisposed to efficiently store fructose as fat and that HFCS is no different, in encouraging body fat storage.

Honey contains so much sugar it is practically off the charts! Stirring it into a hot drink almost certainly kills any potential health benefits, assuming they haven’t already been reduced or obliterated by the process of pasteurisation. Raw honey has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties and might be better used by being applied topically to cuts and abrasions instead of eaten.

Inverted sugar aka ‘invert sugar’, is a corn sugar modified using an animal enzyme, making it verboten to vegans, vegetarians, observant Jews and Muslims. It is a commonly used sugar in a wide range of baked goods, sodas and general confectionary.

Jaggery is the name for the traditional process originating in Asia
and Africa of creating unprocessed sugar concentrate from dates,
cane juice or palm sap without separating out the molasses or crystals. The resultant product is semi-solid, softer than sugar and amorphous. It varies in colour from yellow to golden brown to dark brown. It is more complex than sugar with longer chains of sucrose and therefore releases its energy more slowly than processed sugar. The centuries-old process is the antithesis of the highly mechanised sugar industry and most jaggery comes from remote rural places, arriving at local markets and rarely exported out of its country of origin, although some specialist Asian or African food shops stock it.

Lactose is the natural sugar found in cows’ milk. A high proportion of the adult population of the world is lactose intolerant, so even if you are comfortable drinking milk produced by cows to feed their calves, it might be the cause of bloating, cramps and digestive disorders, and of problems with mucus in the sinuses, ears and chest. Exclude all dairy products, including cheese, for a period of a few weeks to see if this improves symptoms.

Luo han guo aka ‘monk fruit’ (translation) is obtained from a plant native to the Guangxi province in southwestern China. Although known in China for almost a thousand years, it has only recently been introduced to the West. It is a natural zero-calorie sweetener some 300 times sweeter than sugar. It also scores zero on the glycaemic index (the index of the impact of different sugars and carbohydrates on blood sugar levels) and is purported to be suitable for diabetics. BioVittoria company in New Zealand has begun to cultivate the monk fruit and grow it commercially for export.

Malt syrup results from a three-stage process beginning with germinated grain that has been fermented. Although any grain would work, the chosen grain is usually barley. It is used in baked goods and some diabetic prepared foods. It is half as sweet as table sugar and has a distinctively malty flavour.

Maltodextrin is another highly processed common food additive derived from corn and found in beer, sweets and a whole raft of prepared foods. It has been found to be a trigger for those suffering from coeliac disease and other wheat and corn allergies.

Maltose, aka ‘malt sugar’, is a component of malt and it is the sugar that is a natural element of beer. It is made up of two glucose molecules and is a known to be a significant cause of weight gain.

Maple syrup might allay some of your health concerns when drizzling it onto pancakes and waffles instead of golden syrup, but even the finest, most expensive brand you can buy has little nutritional value. It is primarily a sucrose with some glucose and fructose.

Molasses are derived from boiling down either sugar cane or sugar beet and are at least a good source of iron and calcium but have been known to trigger allergies, and even asthma attacks, due to the high sulphur content.

Muscovado sugar is the big brother of brown sugar (sucrose) and are that little bit less processed, although without any significant nutritional value.

Organic white sugar flatters to deceive as it is basically standard white sugar, as processed and refined as any other.

Organic oat syrup, aka ‘avena sativa’, is a common ingredient in breakfast muesli bars, baked goods and even ice cream. It has been claimed to be a rich source of antioxidants but is still highly calorific.

Panocha, aka ‘brown sugar fudge’, is made from a health defeating combination of brown sugar, butter and milk.

Rice bran syrup aka ‘rice malt syrup’, aka ‘rice syrup’ is made from fermenting brown rice. The resultant brown sludge is over half made up of the sugar maltotriose, followed by 45 per cent maltose and three per cent and glucose. By the time this sweetener gets broken down in the gut, it is basically just 100 per cent glucose, the same as processed white sugar.

Sorghum aka ‘sorghum syrup’ contains high levels of dietary fibre and is used in beer, cereals, baked goods and alcoholic beverages. It is pretty much devoid of nutrients and there are other less calorie loaded ways of obtaining fibre.

Stevia is a sweetener derived from the leaves of a shrub native to tropical and subtropical America. It is growing in popularity as a calorie-free alternative to sugar. It is available in granular or syrup form.

Sucrose, aka ‘table sugar’, is often at the forefront of any debate concerning the increasing incidence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It is what is called a ‘di-saccharide’ being made of two glucose molecules; the body needs to break it down to glucose before it can be absorbed so it does not produce quite such an instant ‘hit’ as glucose itself.

Sugar, or ‘table sugar’ to distinguish it from the broader meaning ‘sugar’ is the household name we give to sucrose, which is derived from either sugar cane or sugar beet. In many ways it is more benign than HFCS (see above), it’s cheaper replacement. Don’t let that fool you though. Long gone are the days when sugar was considered as rare a commodity as saffron. It is everywhere. Kidney and renal specialist, Richard Johnson at the University of Colorado Denver, in an interview with Rich Cohen for National Geographic Magazine (Cohen, 2013) said, ‘It seems like every time I study an illness, and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.’ He continued, ‘Why is it that one-third of adults (worldwide) have high blood pressure when in 1900 only five per cent had high blood pressure? And, why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? And, why are more and more Americans obese?’
Answering his own rhetorical questions he said, ‘Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.’

‘Syrup’ as a descriptive term features in many of the names of sugar derivatives. In fact, anything called syrup should come with a health warning as although some are more benign – being less refined – than others, all of them are high in calories and practically devoid of any nutritional benefits.

Treacle is made from the refining of sugar cane or sugar beet and is the starting ingredient of a whole raft of syrups of varying descriptions. It comprises the sugar trio of sucrose (which is made up of glucose), fructose and glucose. It contains no other nutrients.

Tapioca syrup is often interchanged with maple syrup. However, just as with maple syrup, it doesn’t have the nutritional advantage over any other basic sugar syrup.

Turbinado, aka ‘raw sugar’, is just sugar by another name, and is metabolised by the body in exactly the same way as any other sugar.

Xylitol is widely used in sugar-free chewing gum and sweets. It is naturally found in low concentrations in the fibrous parts of many fruits and vegetables. Highly mechanised extraction processes can also extract this sweetener from hardwoods or the outer fibrous cover of corncobs. It has a medical application to reduce ear infections. (
Animal Warning. It is worth noting that even with the small amount in sweets or candy is eaten it is poisonous to dogs and should a dog eat any product containing xylitol it should be taken to a veterinary clinic immediately.)

Note: When reading food labels, be aware that any ingredient ending in ‘ose’ is a sugar.

This is an extract from ‘How to Feel Differently About Food’ written by Sally Baker and Liz Hogon published by Hammersmith Books. Available on Amazon.

Lessons in Sport: Gareth Southgate and Serena Williams

Boys and young men have had poor examples of leadership in sport for too long and it has added to the growing trend of toxic masculinity that seems to be so prevalent today. When your heroes behave badly it can influence fans to behave in the same way.

Often fanatical about football our young men have seen their favourite team players arguing and disputing the judgments of the referee or match officials on countless occasions.

Earning on average £50,000 a week in the UK premier league the players have demonstrated the manners and habits of the gutter so much so that it has become the new normal to respond to unpopular decisions on the pitch with dissent, visible disrespect and aggression.

Even football managers behave badly on the sidelines and in post-match interviews. Snarling and blaming. Carping or in their petulance even refusing to comment at all.

It’s no wonder that similar behaviour is commonplace in schools and out on the streets with some of our boys. How could they know better when all they are doing is following the lead?

Even fathers are sometimes ordered to rein in their behaviour or be banned from watching their son play his Saturday morning kids league football match for unacceptable foul language or because of threatening behaviour. Poor behaviour begets poor behaviour as there is no-one of influence raising the bar.

It felt like the old-world style of Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United for 26 years until his retirement in 2013 had gone for good. Never again would we see his measured approach of toughness balanced with fairness. The days were gone when players were encouraged to improve their performance instead of threatened and berated for failing.

This current generation of managers was often depicted as more stick than carrot and their negative influence set the tenor for the whole of football.

What this World Cup bid from England gave us was a glimmer of the traits of heroes we can all appreciate and value and even look up to. The English players behaved well. They were a unified team and they really tried their best.

With Gareth Southgate, we had a manager with a high quotient of emotional intelligence. He even comforted an opposition team player from Sweden whose penalty chance was thwarted by the English Goal-keeper.

In one of the many memes flooding social media was a photoshopped image of the waistcoated Southgate of today comforting his younger football playing-self when he too missed a penalty opportunity in Euro 96.

The meme looks like a powerful hypnosis visualisation I might create if appropriate for a client to heal his or her younger self.

As part of a therapeutic approach, it can be a transformational experience that works on a deeply subconscious level. During the process, the older, wiser and more-able adult with the power of their sub-conscious mind travels back through time and scoops up his or her younger self-taking them to a place they can never be hurt again.

The next lesson in sport is from Serena Williams who had hardly played any tennis in the last couple of years compared to her pre-marriage punishing schedule of tennis tournament after tennis tournament.

Her life cannot be more different years since her marriage and the difficult birth of her daughter just 9 months ago but here she is lined up to play in Wimbledon Women’s final.

I’m writing this before the final but no one had expected her to do as well as she has so far. So much was against her succeeding facing as she was this year’s crop of the best young perfectly fit and expertly trained aspiring tennis players hungry for their chance of taking the top accolade.

Even without securing the ultimate prize her record this year must be her biggest victory to date.

To come back as a new mother, after numerous post-birth surgical repairs, and to win when so many wrote her off. Instead, several commentators have noted profound changes in her. Always the pro when interviewed in this tournament she expressed herself in ways they hadn’t heard her do before.

In particular of course, the press noted Serena’s sheer joy when she speaks of her daughter.In addition, it seems as if her intuition and sense of self is more deeply embedded within her like never before. She’s always demonstrated her resilience in her game but her resilience in herself has grown too and that’s wonderful to see.

She’s playing like a champion for sure but there is a sense that she’s emotionally grown and come to peace with herself at last.

And like many working mothers her commitment to her profession has not come about without the personal sacrifice of missing special times with her child.

Over the weekend she opened up about missing her baby daughter, Alexis Olympia, taking her first steps because she was training. It caused a social media storm as working mothers the world over commiserated and supported her choices to continue to juggle the almost impossible demands of work and family. Many working mums replied on Twitter to support Serena’s struggle to balance work and home by sharing their own sacrifices too.

Working mothers are lionesses who achieve super-human feats on a daily basis while giving themselves no credit for how hard it is to achieve in the work arena while also being present for the family. If anything Serena, even from her elevated and privileged position has reminded all of us of our humanity and human strength.

I’m grateful for the Gareth Southgate and the Serena Williams of this world offering us insights into their vulnerability while their behaviour evokes the values of true heroes. It’s good for us all.

If you are struggling to find the hero within or want to achieve peak performance in your professional arena or private life then you can book an obligation free discovery call with me here.