Therapy Digest 12

It’s been a week of serendipity with a surprise concert reminding me of the importance of gratitude to improve mental well being. Plus people set themselves up to fail by expecting to make radical changes to their eating habits overnight. Incremental steps mean building on a foundation of success and it helps to cut yourself some slack as you improve your nutrition.

Say Grace

A couple of months back I happened to win a random runners-up prize in a local raffle. It was two tickets to see American Country Singer Gretchen Peters in concert.

‘New Country’ isn’t really our thing, but my husband and I went along when the date finally rolled around this week.

I didn’t know anything about Gretchen’s music but having looked her up online she had an enthusiastic fan base who heralded her as an inspired musician and a poet. There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday evening.

Sitting there in the sold-out auditorium listening to each song for the first time I suppose some of my worst fears about country music equating with misery lyrics was proved right.

Some of the inspirations for her songs were very dark and alluded to all sorts of family breakdowns, alcohol issues and even sexual abuse and murder. Allowing for artistic license, I just hoped as a therapist that she’d found help for herself or maybe just writing and singing her lyrics was therapy enough for her.

One of her songs, ‘Say Grace’ was particularly beautiful in its simplicity and it really resonated with me. The song wasn’t religious in an orthodox way but it was certainly spiritual.

It focussed on the ability to forgive oneself for all one’s mistakes which is a primary tenet of mental well being and emotional health.

She goes on to remind her listeners that if it means beginning all over again, then you can and that for me spoke of optimism and hope even in the darkest of times when you’ve hit rock-bottom and not sure which way to turn.

Most powerfully the last two lines of the chorus are an invitation to come inside and set yourself a place at the table and say grace. Grace is the oldest form of gratitude that we can express. You don’t have to believe in a god on high to take a moment to thank the universe or some higher power for providing nourishment as you sit down to eat.

The idea of home, of coming home, is something many people including myself have had to strive for. It reminded me of several decades ago when I was a newly single parent with a confused and sad five-year-old boy. We had lost a lot and I wasn’t sure we’d ever find our true home again.

I can recall how overwhelming that felt and how peaceful it feels now to know all this time later that my son has found his way home and so have I.

Gratitude work is one of the oldest and most effective ways to improve our feelings of being grounded and it’s a way to come home to yourself. I highly recommend it as an act of affirmation to include in your everyday life.

At the end of your day, preferably just before sleep, just jot down in a notebook all the things that happened to you during the day that you are grateful for. The physical process of hand-writing these are important so preferably no typing.

In tough and challenging times it can be really difficult to recall anything to feel grateful for but as you commit to this nighty process more things will come to you and eventually they will more readily come to your mind.

Psychologists have worked out it takes twenty-one days to embed a habit so commit to doing this for three weeks and you may find it so valuable to your wellbeing that you just happily continue. The daily process of recalling everything you feel grateful for will reap more happiness for you in an almost magical way.

Begin first with five things you are grateful for and try to increase this over several days into a list of fifty things you are grateful for.

When your written list is complete it will enough for you just to read it out to yourself to gain the optimal benefits before you go to sleep.

You’ll sleep soundly and while you sleep your subconscious mind will focus on everything you have already to set up the ideal mindset for feeling grateful and abundant when you wake the next morning.

If you’re struggling to find your way home or focussing more on lack than abundance then you may need some professional help to transform your limiting beliefs. Reach out and schedule an obligation free discovery call with me. The link is on this page.

Ten easy ways to hack your food choices – one meal at a time

People on a ‘Get Healthy Eating’ mission often make the mistake of setting themselves impossibly high standards to achieve.

Cutting out all carbohydrates, or only eating raw food, or even scheduled fasting advised on a 5:2 dieting plan are all challenges that more often than not put a person under undue and unnecessary pressure. These tough regimes almost always end in a person reverting to their previous established habits as the changes they expect from themselves are too hard.

In mine and Liz Hogon’s work with clients struggling with their relationship with food we use our therapy approaches to resolve and release the emotional triggers for disordered eating including bingeing, cravings and purging.

When clients have resolved the issues that compelled them to eat when not hungry they want to tackle their food choices and after decades of emotional eating they are often confused about what their meals should be and what they need to eat to be healthy.

We work with clients to make changes a step at a time and incrementally build on those foundations so that success builds on success instead of setting you up to fail which is what diets always do.

Remember – you don’t fail at diets: diets fail you.

Here are ten points that are fundamental to improving your food choices and if you follow these hacks you’ll be well on your way to taking better care of you.

1. Hunger hinders determination
The best of healthy eating intentions fall to the wayside when you’re caught out feeling really hungry. To be selective you need to be stocked up and travel with your own tasty, nutritional snacks.

2. Knowledge is power
Reading food packaging labels can easily make you cynical when products promoted as healthy, original or natural include ingredients that are unpronounceable or loaded with sugars and sodium (salt).

3. Eat the rainbow
Is a useful hook to remind you to eat as widely as possible of vegetables and fruit. Every different coloured vegetable or darkest green brassica has its unique type of beneficial micro-nutrients.

4. Where’s my nutrition?
Take a moment to look at your plate of food. Aim for two-thirds vegetables including dark green leaves with a serving of protein – such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts or pulses.

Experts also agree that it’s no longer necessary to be afraid of butter although its important buy organic for its higher levels of beneficial omega 3 oil.

5. Eat Mindfully
Eating is your opportunity to take care of yourself and give yourself the best nutrition you can. Being relaxed and focussed while eating allows your body to fully digest and absorb all the nutrients in your food.




6. DYB, DYB, DYB (Do your best)
Be an old style boy scout and be prepared. Do your food shopping to a list with specific meals in mind and cook at least some food in batches so that you have key nutritious meals already pre-prepared for the week ahead.

7. Eat some raw
Some enzymes in food are unavoidably destroyed during cooking so eat raw every day from a side salad, to a handful of nuts, or seeds, or grated vegetables. Olives make an excellent appetiser too that are not only tasty but great for improving your gut health.

8. Spoil yourself
Beauty treatments are wonderful for making you look good on the outside but to glow from within treat yourself to some high welfare foods such as a line caught oily fish, a good quality organically and ethically raised beef steak, free-range chicken, organic eggs, or artisan made sourdough bread.

9. Spice it up
Replace or reduce the amount of salt you cook with by flavouring your meals with spices like turmeric, garlic, chillies, cinnamon and cloves. The medical profession is researching why people from the Indian sub-continent have lower incidences of bowel cancer and are concluding it’s their higher use of spices.

10. Be savvy when eating out
Quiz the waiting staff when you eat out. Many a healthy restaurant choice has been derailed by an overly sweet sauce or an ersatz dressing. Don’t be afraid to ask for your meal to served as simply as possible with sauces served on the side so that you get to choose how much and what you want to eat.

This post was written by Sally Baker and Liz Hogon and was first published in Candis magazine to coincide with the publication of their second book ‘How to Feel Differently About Food’ published by Hammersmith Books, London. Available from Amazon.