The Conflicting Science Of Nutrition And How To Truly Eat Healthy

Nowadays you only have to scroll down your Facebook news feed and you will easily be greeted with an array of nutrition based articles, whether it be how to incorporate the latest superfood into your diet or a study about the harmful effects of too much red meat on the body. Whatever it is, we just cannot stop talking about what it is we should be putting into our bodies, and rightly so! Food on cellular level affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and vital organs, so of course we should be concerned.

So why is it then that one minute coconut oil is classed as a ‘health food’ and can help you burn fat and increase brain function, and in the next breath we are being told it increases your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which contributes to cardiovascular disease and heart disease? Wait a second, how can this be?

I am here to tell you that unfortunately, chances are, both could be be correct. Now bear with me here. Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the largest nutrition school in the world, IIN said “Nutrition is a funny science. It’s the only science where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right”. Hard to grasp, but it’s true. Let me give you some examples.

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Take dairy, it has been proven that yoghurt is fantastic in helping you maintain a healthy gut flora due to its probiotic qualities, yet at the same time it has also been shown to be linked to prostate cancer and heart disease. 

Here’s another. The omega three fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack, great! Yet in another breath we are advised to avoid fish such as king mackerel and bigeye tuna to minimise exposure to contaminants such as mercury. 

So faced with this contradicting science that bombards us on a daily basis, here are some of my top tips to help you navigate through the confusion.

It’s All About Balance

As we know already, too much of a good thing in life can sometimes be bad, especially in nutrition. So what we need to strive for in order to create a healthy diet is balance. For example, we all need protein (not as much as society thinks we do) but we still need it, however too much protein can cause bad breath, headaches and constipation.

Try to make sure you vary your diet with a mix of different proteins (plant and animal) such as red meat, lentils and beans, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains, sweet potato and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts.

Eat Mostly Plants

Plants are the key to vitality and health and they were put on this earth for us to consume and enjoy. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables means you are consuming plenty of essential phytonutrients which have been shown to prevent chronic illness, strengthen the immune system and to even prevent cancer. Yes, cancer!

It is also essential to vary the fruit and vegetables you are eating as you benefit from different essential vitamins and minerals from every plant. Another tip is to always try to eat what’s in season as it will taste amazing and the nutrient content will be at its highest.

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Always Choose Quality

Nowadays we are blessed with so much variety on the shelves of our supermarkets, however, sometimes this can lead to confusion as to what to buy. When purchasing meat, poultry, eggs or fresh fruit and vegetables it is always preferable to buy organic if possible.

This means that your produce will not contain any harmful antibiotics, artificial hormones, GMO’s, ionising radiation, herbicides or pesticides which all can negatively impact our health. I appreciate organic can be expensive sometimes, but it does ensure the healthiest outcome for our bodies.

The Avoid List

Now, I know nutritional studies seem to contradict each other, but they stand united in one area and that’s what not to eat! In order to ensure you are eating a healthy diet it is essential to eliminate the following; All processed foods, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and harmful fats such as trans fats. 

Now I know you don’t want to hear it but the reality is that burgers, french fries, sodas, pizza, sweets, cakes, biscuits and baked goods are never going to be healthy. So if you truly want to adopt a healthy diet then do your best to cut out these nasties, as these foods are one of the main reasons that we have seen such a rapid rise in chronic illnesses and obesity in our society today.

Respect Bio-individuality

As much as one person will tell you dairy helps their gut, there will be several others that disagree with you and tell you that it causes them no end of issues. That’s because we are all unique and news flash, there is actually no perfect diet! Yes, it’s true, only a diet that suits you.

Some people may thrive on a diet including animal products and others will benefit from a more plant-based approach. As a Health Coach, I advocate bio-individuality and this simply means that no one diet fits all. One man’s food is another man’s poison so the key is to truly listen to your body and find out what works best for you.

 #Nutrition #HealthCoach #Diet #Health #Food #CleanEating 

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How To Take Control Of Your Migraines With Deep Belly Breathing

Did you know that breathing is the new Botox in the migraine world? Yes, it’s true.

Something as simple as a bodily function has the power to mitigate depression, anxiety and stress, all of which are commonly a result of suffering with chronic migraines and in turn only make suffering with migraines so much worse.

Meditation using diaphragmatic breathing has also been shown to even improve cell health, balance hormones levels and even reduce blood pressure and it’s something that we all have the power to access, we just have to learn how.

 

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How Can This Help My Migraines Then?

In order to explain to you how this can help you, I need to delve into the science behind it first but trust me it’s actually super interesting. So here we go.

Our nervous system is broken down into several different parts but what we are going to focus on today is two areas:

  1. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
  2. The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)

The sympathetic nervous system is connected with our ‘flight or fight’ response which I am sure you have heard of before. This was initially installed in us to protect us from that lion that was trying to eat us millions of years ago. However, our body is also designed to ‘rest and digest’, activating our parasympathetic nervous system after the threat has disappeared and the lion is no longer present.

Unfortunately nowadays, relaxation doesn’t happen anymore and we are all running around in panic mode and chronically stressed, either waiting for that lion (or in our case that migraine) that’s lurking around the corner. Now I know from personal experience, when my migraines were at their worst I spent all of my time in the SNS, ‘fight or flight’ mode’, on edge, living in constant fear of another attack.

However when I started to meditate and just breathe through my migraines and the pain, the miraculous used to happen. They would calm, my pain would begin to lessen and without question the duration of the migraine would reduce and until this day I never really knew the reason why this happened, but now I do. I was switching my body from ‘flight or fight’ to my ‘rest and digest’ system without even knowing it. God I wish someone had told me how powerful meditation using deep belly breathing was when I was super sick but hey, now I’m telling you so that’s all that matters.

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So Why Is Being In The ‘Rest and Digest’ System So Important?

Without returning to the ‘rest and digest’ system, with the extended release of stress hormones in your body it lowers your immunity, makes you more susceptible to illness (more migraines) and means that your body is never able to heal, restore and repair. Deep belly breathing can also reduce tension in the neck and the shoulders which again, I am sure most people can relate to when suffering from a migraine.

How Do I Practice This Then? 

Right, so find a comfortable, quiet space where you will not be disturbed, ideally sitting upright on a chair or a bed. My top tip is do not lie down otherwise there is a very high chance you will fall asleep. Happens to me every time!

Place your hands on your belly, thumbs touching on the navel and connecting your index fingers together so that you are making a heart shape with your hands.

On the inhale your belly will expand as you fill your diaphragm with air which will push your hands outwards and away from your body. Try to do this slowly and to the count of five in your head, hold for a second at the top and then exhale contracting your diaphragm and releasing the air out through the mouth and the hands should fall back towards your body again.

Simple, right? 

Personally I find doing this whilst listening to some calming music such as the sound of waves washing up onto the shore makes this even more powerful.

Now check you out! You’re now a qualified mindfulness and meditation guru!

I honestly don’t believe I would be here today, over 4 months migraine free without learning to breathe and by finding some calm in my pain. This was a game changer for me and I know it can be for you too.

#DeepBreathing #Mindfulness #Health #Meditation #Healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Self-Care Behaviours To Reduce Your Migraines

Throughout my recovery from chronic migraines it’s fair to say I have learnt a lot, actually a hell of a lot, not through my triumphs, but through my failures. After all, if you don’t try then you won’t fail, and if you don’t fail then you won’t learn, and if you don’t learn then you won’t be able to succeed so I guess it was all part of the journey. That being said, I wanted to share with you a few self-care behaviours that I learnt in the hope that I might be able to prevent you from a little bit of pain along your own journey of healing. Ok, so let’s get stuck in.

    1.  Put Yourself First

This was a hard lesson and unfortunately one that I only learnt the hard way, in fact so many times I lost count. As a migraine sufferer it is normal to be filled with guilt on a daily basis and many times I would attend a party or gathering with friends when deep down I really knew I shouldn’t. My gut was telling me no but my conscience was telling me to go! I would always worry about what others would think and sure, I have lost a couple of people I thought were friends over the last few years but I am here to tell you that until you prioritise your health first above anything else, your healing won’t be able to begin.

By prioritising number one it reduces your anxiety and eliminates unnecessary stress which only makes migraines so much worse. I lost count of the amount of times I did things for others and suffered for days as a result so try to remember friends to put yourself first, it’s just not worth it. YOU are worth it.

    2.  Learning That It’s Ok To Say No

Ok, so you’ve listened to your gut (which I have to say is 99.999999% right most of the time) and you have politely turned your friend down for those birthday drinks you wanted to attend, but what I want you to realise is that you are not being selfish by saying no you can’t make it in any way. Real friends will stick around come what may, no matter how many times you cancel on them as they truly only want what’s best for you.

My top tip on how to make this situation more comfortable for both of you is to be honest with them from the start. If deep down you know you probably won’t be able to attend something just explain that to your friend from the start, be honest rather than promising you will be there and 10 minutes before you leave you message saying you can’t make it. The more transparent and open you are about a situation, the more likely they are to understand and don’t worry, there will be plenty more opportunities in the future that you won’t miss out on.

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   3.  Love Yourself Exactly Where You Are

When my migraines were at my worst I’ll be honest, I hated everything about myself. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror as I was ashamed of who I had become. That was until I read Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” and everything began to change. She taught me compassion for myself, patience and how to love myself exactly the way I was. Don’t get me wrong, it took me a long time for my mindset to change but when it did I realised how much tension and stress I was creating myself.

She would always ask “What would you say to a friend if they were in your position?”. Of course you wouldn’t put them down and give them a hard time for what they are going through would you? No, you would be empathetic, patient and understanding to the battle that they are fighting so why aren’t you doing the same to yourself? She made a good point. So take a moment today to be kind to yourself and reflect on this notion. And if you are still struggling then get yourself down to a book store and grab a copy of Louise’s Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”. It’s magic.

  4.  Nourish Your Body On All Levels

In order for your body to begin to heal, you need to master self-care in all areas of your life. Everything from making time out for yourself, being disciplined about your social schedule, how much sleep you get, the food you put in your body everyday, whether you talk positively or negatively to yourself or whether you have time to release stress and tension through exercise.

Whatever it is, your body deserves the best and the more you give it what it needs, the more you will be able to thrive again and become migraine free. Essentially, self-care is simply ensuring that you are taking care of your emotional, physical and mental health friends and yes, we are all totally worth it so try checking in with yourself now and again to discover where you could nourish yourself on a deeper level.

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I really hope that these self-care behaviours help you find a little more balance in life in order to reduce your migraine frequency. In what ways do you struggle with self-care? Is it balancing family commitments or your busy work schedule? I would love to connect and hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below.

#LousieHay #SelfCare #SelfLove #Migraines #Healing #Compassion

How To Go Beyond Just Eliminating Your ‘Trigger’ Foods And Start Using Food To Prevent Your Migraines

We all know that food plays a huge role in migraine, but I didn’t realise just how huge until I recently completely re-evaluated my diet and everything that I was eating. A couple of years ago when I was seeking traditional western medical treatment for my migraines, the one question I seemed to be asked time and time again by different specialists was “do you know what your migraine trigger foods are”? What then proceeded was each doctor telling me the same list of foods I should avoid – MSG, chocolate, red wine, artificial sweeteners etc. The usual – you get the gist but unfortunately for me avoiding everything on this list like the plague didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the frequency of my migraines. This left me thinking that there must be more to this than just eliminating trigger foods? Yes I’m sure it helps but what about everything else that you are eating in a day, surely that must have an impact on your migraine frequency too?

It then struck me that not one doctor had ever asked me about my overall diet. All that seemed to matter was that I eliminated trigger foods. How had no one ever thought about this before I wondered? I had seen several top Neurologist’s, Headaches Specialists and General Practitioners, but none of them had ever approached this subject. Why, I asked myself? On reflection, I guess this is because unfortunately western doctors have very little, if any, training on how important food is in the role of health. Sad but true. However after studying to become a Health Coach at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I found the answer straight away. It is HUGELY important, no actually it’s ESSENTIAL to evaluate our diets as a whole, as effectively we are what we eat on an even deeper level than you think.

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So, as my studies progressed I learnt all about the chemicals and pesticides sprayed on non organic food, how we refine carbohydrates and extract their nutrients, how sugar causes inflammation in the body, how hormones and antibiotics fill our meat, how soy and corn dominates pretty much everything in our diets and the list goes on. The bottom line is that what we are putting in to our bodies on a daily basis matters, A LOT! And my point is that you could be avoiding the original “trigger list” but still be filling the rest of your diet with the so-called ‘foods’ that I just listed above. If we can actually even call it food? Surely we need to be looking at the whole picture? It just didn’t make any sense to me so I set about using my own body to experiment and you will never guess what happened.

My migraines halved in severity and intensity! Yup, you heard me right! HALVED! I was proof that there was more to treating migraines by simply avoiding the so-called ‘trigger list’. And today I stand proud nearly 13 weeks migraine free! Oh yes. Now I know other factors have helped me get to where I am today but what I have been putting in my mouth everyday has clearly been making a difference. Clean, whole, unprocessed, nutrient abundant food! It’s that simple. Not food imitating products that line our shelves pretending to be food, just plain old real food.

I guess you might then ask “so what do you eat” and my answer is simple. You know when you have got your trolley and entered the supermarket, ok? From there you are greeted with the fresh produce section, well that’s it! Just stay there and go crazy! From whole beetroot to radishes, from swish chard to mushrooms, from mangos to papayas, from pomegranates to dates, from green beans to asparagus, shop to your heart’s content, not forgetting a quick stop to the herbs, spices and whole grain isles but that’s it. See, pretty simply right?

To prove to you that it’s not all gloom and doom, below gives you an example of what my day-to-day eating now looks like and not for love nor money would I go back to eating low-calorie, weight watchers chicken tikka microwavable meals! (Yes I know, I actually did that – bad, bad Kristie!)

 

So from my findings I have come to believe that the migraine industry must be missing a HUGE trick. How is it that this has never been questioned before or even researched into? I just don’t get it!

However, as times change and functional whole body medicine starts to be introduced into mainstream healthcare, my hope is that the industry discovers the power of eating organic, whole, processed free food, in its natural form straight out of the ground, exactly the way nature intended. I believe not only can this help migraine sufferers, but it has the power to heal the world.

I guess Hippocrates really was right all those generations ago. Food truly is medicine.

 #Food #Nutrition #Heal #FoodIsMedicine #Health #MigrainePrevention

Alter Your Beliefs And Begin To Live A Migraine Free Life

I’m going to start by passing on some inspiring words of advice from the New York Times bestselling author, lifestyle entrepreneur and creator of The School of Greatness, Lewis Howes.

“Don’t downgrade your dreams to match your reality, upgrade your beliefs to match your vision”

Now that’s got you thinking huh? So tell me, have you put aside your dreams of having a family one day due to the never-ending cycle of migraines that seem to control your life? Have you accepted that ‘this’ is your life and have you resigned yourself to an eternity of pain because the doctors have told you so? Or have you decided that forever more you will just have to ‘manage’ your condition and give up on chasing your dreams.

Well I’ll admit, these were my thoughts back in the darkest depth of my illness and I am sure they are something that all migraineurs can relate to. Now, after escaping the clutches of chronic migraine and regaining my life, I often get asked “So how did you do it? What actually got rid of your migraines”? As I have explained in previous blogs, I have found that a balance of self-care, creating realistic boundaries, a clean plant-based diet, meditation, visualisation, stress management and appropriate exercise have all contributed to me becoming free from chronic migraines. However the underlying and absolutely essential aspect that propelled these factors in to healing my body was actually my belief system. I could have done all of the above absolutely perfectly, to the text-book in fact but with very different results and do you know what the differentiating factor is? My belief!

Did you know that only 3% of our brains processing power is controlled by the conscious mind which means that a whopping 97% is controlled by the sub-conscious mind! Crazy right? So basically what I am telling you is no matter how many times you tell yourself out loud “I will not let these migraines beat me” unfortunately you could repeat this until you are blue in the face but nothing will change as it lies within the 3%. In order to actually alter your belief system and therefore start seeing healthy change happen, you need to tap in to the 97%.

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Ok, so how do you re-programme the subconscious mind then? By everyday committing to change, to beating your diagnosis, to doing what they told you wasn’t possible, to chasing your dreams and through sheer hard flippin’ work. It doesn’t come in pill form either; this takes time, patience and most of all determination to never ever give up.

Since April 2016 I began using Dr Joe Dispenza’s meditations daily in order to change my belief system. When I first began and was really sick, I listened to his hour long meditations 3 times a day and through relaxing the mind I would enter the alpha state which is where you are able to influence and re-programme the sub-conscious mind. The meditations ask me “What is the belief and perception that you want to change about yourself in your life? And do you want to continue believing and perceiving in this way?” and every day I would repeat the same. “That I am destined to live a life in pain and never get better and no, I don’t want to continue believing in this way” and as the days went by and I visualised my perfect existence over and over again, my confidence began to grow, my actions started to reflect my words and my beliefs began to change.

Tears would stream down my face as I basked in the pure bliss in my life as I dreamt it, totally lost in the emotions of love, gratitude and immense joy for feeling completely healthy again. I would envisage myself running a marathon, owning a successful health related business, travelling the world and starting a family. I would regularly see our little girl (Florence I named her) with blond curly locks and blue eyes playing in our garden without a care in the world whilst me and my husband would look on so in love with her.

And the funny thing is now that my dreams are actually starting to manifest before my very eyes. Very exciting business opportunities have come my way, amazing holidays are booked in our diaries, I am now 3 months completely migraine free and I’ve recently started to exercise again, in particular going jogging. So suddenly that little girl playing in the garden feels within reach in the not so distant future. As I write this yet more tears roll down my face as I feel so passionate about passing this knowledge onto others who think that life is hopeless, pain stricken and lost forever. It’s not, no matter what the doctors tell you. Apparently there is no cure for chronic migraines, I would beg to differ.

My message to you is this. Your mind is your biggest tool in healing yourself and living the life you dream. When you commit everyday to creating new beliefs your body has no choice but to follow and you CAN and WILL get there. You are enough, you are powerful, you are stronger than you ever imagine and can achieve anything you set your mind to. All you have to do is believe. Sure it won’t happen overnight and it requires some serious hard work but I promise you that it will be worth it.

On that note, I’ll leave you with some more words of wisdom from the inspiring Lewis Howes.

“You become what you envision yourself being…”

And by god he is right!

#DrJoeDispenza #LewisHowes #Beliefs #Mindset #Determination

 

Medicine Comes In All Forms And Surrounds Us Everyday

Have you ever noticed how your pain can sometimes temporarily disappear for a minute or two when you become completely engrossed in a great film or book and in those moments you completely forget your struggles and your relentless suffering whilst you become lost in another world? During my recovery from chronic migraines I began to realise that there were things around me that could reduce my discomfort level on a bad day. I’m not just talking about the holistic medicine such as meditation or mindfulness, no, no, no. I’m talking about the type of medicine that we all have at our fingertips, the type of medicine that surrounds us everyday, we just have to open our eyes and see it.

As I know from experience, when you are in the depths of despair and praying for a break from your condition, anything you can do to feel that little bit better in any way is worth it. So in that breath I thought I would share a few different forms of medicine that I found gave me some temporarily relief and comfort during my darkest days with chronic migraines.

Love As Medicine

So Bernie Sigel an internationally renowned expert in holistic medicine says that unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system. So when the immune system is turned on it produces oxytocin (known as the love hormone) which helps to reduce cardiovascular stress which in turn decreases cell death and inflammation. So love really is a physical medicine friends, so time to get loved up! Remember though, this doesn’t just mean with a partner, you can receive love from friends and family which can help stimulate your healing also. Personally I know without the support of my incredible husband, family and friends I wouldn’t be where I am today. So maybe love actually is the best medicine?

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Me and my truly wonderful husband Alex

Gratitude As Medicine

This is a tough one to understand at first but once you get it then you will discover that the art of gratitude is such a beautiful way to live your life. Ok so I know when you are in relentless pain your initial response would be ‘how on earth can I be grateful at a time like this’? Well trust me friends, when you are having a bad day grab a pen and paper and starting writing down the things that you are grateful for, no matter how small. It could be the cold water you have to drink, the family looking after you, a roof over your head or even that friend who just text you checking in that you are ok. The more you become grateful for what you have the more you become content in the place you are, even if you are in pain. Knowing there are things that you are thankful for somehow gives you some peace and means that you are less focused on the pain you may be experiencing.

Pets As Medicine

Now look at that face. You cant tell me that she didn’t make you smile for just a second?
 Cute huh? Did you know that petting your cat or dog can actually lower your blood pressure, help you de-stress and relax your body by releasing the hormone serotonin into your bloodstream? And what does serotonin do? Well, it is thought to effect anxiety levels and boost your mood. This explains why when my furry friend snuggles up beside me and purrs away it almost feels therapeutic and it would put me at ease. Little Maria really did make those dark days a little brighter for me.

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My little girl Maria

Laughter As Medicine

Did you know that laughter can actually strengthen your immune system, boost your mood and diminish pain? I know, crazy right? It works like an actual drug and guess what? It’s free! It has also been shown to relax your whole body and relieve muscle tension too which I know so many migraineurs suffer from, me being one of them. So I found that any time I was having a bad day I would always, always put something funny on TV to watch. Whether it be a ‘Friends’ re run or some clips from my favourite comedian Michael MacIntyre on YouTube, no matter what it was, it had to make me laugh, which took my focus off my pain and into another world for a short while, resulting in some temporary relief.

So there we have it. A few other forms of medicine that can help you find some peace and distraction if you are living in a world of pain. I’d love to know what else helps you find some relief when you are having a bad day. Feel free to share your comments below…

#NaturalMedicine #Healing #HolisticMedicine #MyJourney #MigraineFree

 

Tips To Reduce Your Anxiety Due To Migraines And Headaches

If you’re anything like me (which I imagine you are), then you can relate to the struggle that migraine and headache sufferers have with anxiety. They pretty much go hand in hand with each other. I don’t believe it’s possible to have one without the other but if I am mistaken then I would love to be proved wrong.

Unfortunately there is no cure for anxiety so as migraine/headache sufferers know it’s just something that we have to learn to try to control and reduce as much as we can. That said, I know it’s easier said than done. How many times have I heard “Well maybe if you weren’t so anxious then you wouldn’t get a migraine”. Pah, that’s like saying to someone don’t think of a pink elephant….. Yep, you thought of a pink elephant didn’t you? Effectively that’s the best way I can explain it to people. As much as logically the brain is telling itself not to get anxious as it is irrational, the emotional brain overrides this and plays out the worst possible scenario over and over again, not being able to help itself.

The other interesting aspect to migraines and anxiety is what comes first? The migraine/headache or the anxiety? Exactly like the chicken and the egg situation. Did the anxiety cause the migraine to start or did you become anxious about a migraine because the attack had already begun? I know, frustrating huh and to be honest it’s hard to ever truly know the answer. The best we can do is try to keep our anxiety at bay as much as possible as most migraine sufferers will know that the more anxious and upset you get the worse the pain gets, so it’s super important that we try to break this vicious cycle.

So in that breath I wanted to share with you a couple of tips that I have learnt upon my healing journey that you may find helpful in reducing your anxiety.

  1. Setting Realistic Limits For Yourself

During my recovery I have always tried to push myself and step out of my comfort zone as I understand that by simply staying in my ‘safe space’ on my sofa (as nice and comfy as it is) I am never going to fully be able to get my old life back. However, sometimes I have pushed myself way, way, WAY too far with disastrous results. Like the time I flew 16 hours half way round the world to Vegas to party with my friends for our 30th birthday celebration. What the hell was I thinking? Not only did I push myself ridiculously far beyond what I could realistically achieve, it then backfired on me by smashing my confidence for months after, leaving me feel like an epic failure and super anxious to go anywhere or do anything, even if it was just down the road for a cup of tea with a friend.

By knowing your limits and being realistic about where you are in your recovery, you can then use this as a positive to aid your recovery further. So for example, you step slightly out of your comfort zone, so then you only experience a small amount of anxiety that you know you can deal with, thus the experience goes well and therefore you confidence increases. Voila! You have begun to break the cycle and then the next time you are challenged to step out your comfort zone you will suffer less anxiety due to your positive past experience. Just remember friends, small consistent steps lead to long lasting changes.

   2. Practicing Mindfulness

Now if you have never heard of mindfulness then I’m sure you are not alone. However recently mindfullness is becoming more and more recognised as a tool in treating migraine and headaches as discussed this year in The World Migraine Summit.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is being in the here and now and nowhere else. Simple. It’s just bringing your thoughts and awareness back into the body and away from the worries and anxiety that you may be feeling. This is normally done by focusing on the breath by simply listening and feeling the sensation of your body breathing in and out in it’s own natural rhythm. A great way I like to practice this is that I imagine a slow following river in my mind and as a thought or worry pops into my head I simply acknowledge it and let it go, disappearing down the river into the distance. A great way to deal with anxious thoughts I find. Just let them go and come back to the breath. You see there is no possible way to feel anxious and mindful at the same time, so the mindfullness wins and as a result you feel calm and more in control.

If you are interested in learning more there is a great free app for beginners called Headspace which gives you an insight into this kind of practice. Worth a go friends.

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3 . Use The Power Of Visualization 

So we know that with headaches and migraines it is normally the fear of getting one that causes the anxiety in the first place, but what if we could combat this and not even give it the chance to begin? What if we had already played out the scenario in our head several times over so that we have an inner confidence in ourselves and our ability to handle a certain situation? That’s where the power of visulization comes in. Every morning I meditate and spend time seeing the upcoming events in my life, big or small, play out in my mind always resulting in the best possible outcome. I feel the feelings of joy and success throughout my body and when I return after my meditation I have this inner confidence within myself which of course naturally reduces my anxiety. Personally I use Dr Joe Dispenza’s guided mediations as I find them extremely powerful but you could just do this in a quiet space with or without music, whatever you find works for you.

If you want to know more about Dr Joe’s meditations then click here to read more about the fantastic results I experienced and reduced anxiety after just eight weeks of this practice.

So there we go friends, a few tips to help you with the daily battle that is anxiety, migraines and headaches. I would love to know what other ways help you deal with anxiety due to migraines or any other illness for that matter? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 #Migraine #Headache #Anxiety #Mindfulness #Health

Surely Prevention Is Better Than Cure, Right?

Nowadays I view my illness as a blessing. A blessing for many reasons, such as immense gratitude for every healthy day I have, for being able to truly appreciate the friends and family I love and for finding a purpose in life, one in which I can help others fufill happy and healthy futures. But what if we never had to suffer in the first place? What if ‘we’ as a society took a different angle on healthcare and rather than treat the symptoms of an illness when it occurs by covering it up with a concoction of pills, we look at how we could prevent the illness in the first place? To be honest I’m not just talking about headaches, this is a much wider issue. In fact I am sure this has to do with the global obesity epidemic that is plaguing the world right now which leads me back to my original question. Surely prevention is better than cure, right?

Right! The further I delve into the health care field the more I learn how effective preventative measures actually are, however the sad thing is that they are hardly ever practiced, especially amongst our doctors. America spends trillions of dollars on treating disease but not a dime on preventing it? Someone explain to me where the logic is in that? Perhaps that has to do with the 300 billion dollar drug industry? I know, I know, it’s a taboo subject, but can you tell me that the drug companies would encourage preventative measures such a lifestyle and diet changes whereby the patient would need less or maybe no pharmaceutical drugs anymore? Just saying.

So if I were to tell you that there was this magical new drug on the market which could have the following effects on your health would you take it?

  1. It could reduce type 2 diabetes and blood glucose levels
  2. Lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol
  3. Help control your weight
  4. Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  5. Strengthen your bones and muscles
  6. Improve your mental health and reduce your risk of depression
  7. Help you live a healthier and longer life
  8. It could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  9. Prevent falls in older age

Of course you would! Well I would that’s for sure and do you know what this magical drug is? PHYSICAL EXERCISE! Yep, can you believe it? A regular moderate exercise program is enough to give you these incredible health benefits! The other amazing aspect to preventive medicine is that we normally take one pill to treat one condition, whereas preventative measures such as exercise doesn’t just treat one condition, it treats multiple and this is just physical exercise I’m talking about. What if we then throw in the mix some stress management tools, healthy eating, a regular sleep schedule and my god, you might just have yourself a chance at better bill of health.

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The view from my morning beach walk.

So I’m not telling you to negate medicine as in so many cases it is vital and the medical professionals deserve to be recognised for their amazing work but what if we could in so many cases, prevent medical treatment due to simple lifestyle changes and re-education and help reduce the strain on our health systems? My god I think we could seriously change the world from ‘sick care’ back to the world of ‘healthcare’ again.

Personally I think this would be most beneficial if we could start this early in schools. Rather than drilling into us when Henry VIII died and when the Battle of Hastings was (which I can still never remember to this day), surely it would be more effective to teach children proper life skills that they can take on into adulthood, to allow children to create a healthy and balanced life for themselves and their families in the future? Can you imagine if we taught kids in school all about healthy food and how to cook and prepare it, how to look after their bodies, fuel and nourish themselves, how to find a form of exercise that they love, how to create healthy relationships and how to manage stress. Can you imagine what effect this could have on the sick care system that we know today? I predict that there would be a serious outbreak of health! That’s what would happen.

So in the meantime as preventative measures begin to get recognised in our world today, I am proud as a Health Coach to be part of raising awareness in how effective preventative measures can actually be. Not only could we save ourselves a lot of money, but at the same time our health care systems that are currently under enormous strain could maybe start to breathe a sigh of relief.

As Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And by god I think he was right.

#HealthCare #Preventatives #Medicine #Lifestyle #PhysicalExercise

 

 

How To Ensure Healthy Eating Doesn’t Become An Unhealthy Obsession

If we were honest with ourselves, I’m sure we could all admit to going through a time when we were super strict and regimented with our diet and what we ate, whether we did it to lose those 10 pounds to get back into those favourite skinny jeans or whether we just wanted to try out the latest ‘raw food vegan’ trend as one of the glossy magazines said it would leave our skin glowing. Whatever the reason, these huge shifts in dietary habits without you knowing, could quite easily go from a healthy intention to an unhealthy obsession without you even realising it.

Just have a think back. Have you ever turned down an invitation to go out for dinner with friends because the menu didn’t have anything on it that you could remotely eat on the current ‘healthy’ diet that you were adopting at the time? Well if so, just be aware that if this became a regular pattern of behaviour it could be the beginning of orthorexia nervosa, a mental condition that can end up significantly impairing one’s daily function. The disorder is characterised by anxiety, ritualistic thoughts and behaviours and excessive pickiness around food with a fixation on nutrition as a means to avoid other life situations and as a result the person may feel guilt, self loathing and socially isolate themselves. Like anything, when healthy eating is taken to the extreme it can actually become unhealthy for you. Healthy eating should compliment your life, allowing you to feel and function at your absolute best, however if healthy eating starts to dictate what you can and can’t do and limit your life then it’s no longer a healthy habit.

So in that breath I wanted to give you a couple of positive ways to help you maintain a healthy, yet balanced approach to healthy eating;

  1. 90/10 Rule 

I love this one and a rule I personally live by. So the gist of it is eating healthy and the foods you know nourish your body 90% of the time then allows you to treat yourself the other 10% of the time. Remember, it’s the choices we make the majority of the time that count. So personally I tend to eat well when I’m at home and cooking for myself but when me and my husband go out for lunch or for a coffee now and again, that’s when I will treat myself but completely guilt free! And I don’t just mean a sweat treat, it could be a slice of some homemade hot crusty bread with melted butter, a sprinkle of goats cheese on your salad or perhaps your favourite glass of red, just something you that makes you smile, otherwise what’s the point? Food is a pleasure in life and there for us to enjoy, so let’s not forget that. Life is all about balance right, which leads me nicely on to my next point.

2.  It’s All About Balance

So for me, the trick to finding balance in the way I eat is by listening to my body. Personally for health reasons I find that a predominantly plant-based diet works best for my body but this doesn’t mean that I can’t be flexible, no, no no! In actual fact I would class myself as a “flexiterrean”. Some days I tend to feel my body craving some more grounding foods, (it’s normally red meat or eggs) but I understand that this is simply my body’s way of telling me that it’s missing something. We should not be scared of cravings, quite the opposite in fact, we should embrace them and learn to respond to them, that is unless you body is just shouting “CARROT CAKE” at the top of it’s lungs 24/7 in which case that might be something you need to address! Trust me, you don’t need to spend your life counting grams of carbs, fat and protein in each meal, just trust your gut and let your body work out the rest. That’s what is was designed to do, balance itself.

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    3.  Do Not Punish Yourself

After implementing the 90/10 rule, it only works if you embrace the 10%. Go mad if you like! Have that carrot cake with the extra cream cheese frosting just because – because you can and deserve it. However if you spend the proceeding hours punishing yourself and trying to work out how many calories were in that fab slab of heaven and how many minutes on a treadmill it’s going to take you to work it off, then you might as well have not bothered. Society has taught us this cycle of depriving and starving ourselves from all of the foods we love, followed by feeling guilty and bad when we ‘give in’ to temptation. We need to break free from this negative cycle and try and create a better relationship with the food we eat and our bodies. Try practicing your 10% guilt free. It actually feels invigorating when you do.

4.  Eat Whole Foods Rather Than Counting Calories 

Who really wants to live life counting every calorie that they take in? Life is seriously too18519391_10211154526831942_1291560346_o short for that. Constantly assesing how many grams of fat, carbs and protein you are eating and writing it down throughout your day then putting it into a fancy app to calculate how many calories you have left over for diner? Urrrrrgh, not me and guess what? When you eat whole foods, clean plant based foods that haven’t been processed or refinded one hundred times over and a ton of sugar added to them, then there is no need to count calories, fats, carbs or whatever it is your counting! If you are eating a high quality, nutrient dense, clean diet high in plant foods then there is no need to worry about the the grams of this and that. Your body is getting exactly what it needs. Real food! Relax a little friends, delete that app and embrace more beautiful whole foods and your body will thank you for it.

  5.  Become a ‘Flexiterrean”

Now I think some of these obsessive habits can occur when we decide to commit ourselves to a certain ‘diet’. God there are so many dietory theories nowadays. You could be vegan or paleo, high carb or low carb, keytogenic or atkins, low fat or low protein, the list is endless but for me this rigidity in eating a certain way can bring about challenges in day to day life, especially in social situations. I sure don’t want to miss out on a friend’s birthday just because they are having it in an all you can eat meat fest of a restuarant. This is why I adopt the flexitterrean approach. Whilst adopting the 90/10 rule I would use this 10% to relax , especially in social situations so I can enjoy myself and not feel restricted. So why not give it a go? Test out your flexitterrean muscles today.

So that’s it, a few sure fire ways to ensure healthy eating doesn’t turn in to an unhealthy obsession. Remember friends, healthy living should not be ‘diet’, it should simply be a healthy way to live your life.

#HealthEating #Nutrition #HealthyHabits #CleanEating #HealthCoach

 

 

Could This Be A Cure For Your Tension Headaches?

So I wanted to fill you in friends on what’s been going on with me recently as I realised I haven’t done a blog to update you with my migraine/headache progress for a pretty long time now. The good news is that my migraines continue to decrease! Yay! I know, amazing news right? To the point now where I had two whole months migraine free in February and March, a little blip with two migraines close together and now I have just completed another month migraine free which I am over the moon about. I continue to eat an unprocessed, whole foods, plant-based diet as much as possible which I know has been a huge contributing factor to the continual reduction in my migraines.

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Now for the not such good news. Even though I have effectively been migraine free for long periods of time, my old pain has been replaced with a whole new type of pain. A flippin’ annoying daily, can’t get away from, never ending type of aching pain. Hello tension headaches! So in the past I have always been a sufferer of tension headaches but this was pre migraines and never, ever anywhere close to the extent that I am having them at the moment. You see, before I suffer a migraine my neck tightens up, it remains tight during the migraine and even after the migraine has gone it still hangs around like bad smell that I can’t get rid of! Gee thanks migraine. As a result I develop a tension headache and this is the cycle I have been stuck in now for so very long. The funny part now (well I guess it’s not actually that funny) is that I’m not even having the migraines to cause the neck pain anymore but I’m still having these daily tension headaches. I guess after four years of my neck tightening and releasing on constant repeat it has just had enough, and I don’t blame it, I have to.

So over the past few months with the advice of my doctor I have had chiropractic sessions which seemed to help temporarily but the pain would always return, physiotherapy sessions which I can only describe as four months of massaging torture and some acupuncture thrown in for good luck. It doesn’t matter what I have tried, it only seems to make matters worse as the whole of my neck feels constantly bruised and tender to touch. Most days I wake up feeling like I’ve done ten rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson even after such a simple task as going for a gentle walk.

That said, I have recently been given a beacon of hope by my chiropractor that I wanted to share with you. She advised me that several of her patients have been having a treatment through an Orthopedic Consultant that she has been working with whereby the doctor injects a mixture of cortisol and an anti-inflammatory medicine into the neck joint to help reduce the inflammation and therefore the pain. The way my chiropractor described it was that sometimes when you have had chronic pain in an area for a long time, the nerves are so used to constantly firing due to being in that overworked state, that sometimes they need resetting. She advised that three of her patients that had undergone this procedure had felt incredible results. So with a glimmer of hope in my eye, I made my appointment with the specialist hoping that this might actually be the answer.

After an MRI Scan and one x-ray later, my results came through and it was as expected. I was diagnosed with severe neck tension. The doctor explained that naturally the spine through the neck should naturally resemble a nice “S” shape, mine looked more like an “I” and like someone had put a steel rod through my neck as it was in a dead straight line. The doctor explained that the joints were under a lot of pressure, dehydrated and were surrounded by inflammation which would be causing my pain and that I was an excellent candidate for the CT guided facet injections. Finally, it all began to make sense. No wonder the flippin’ physio didn’t work as the problem was at the joint and not the muscle, the muscle was tense as a result of the tight joint.

So luckily, thanks to the amazing healthcare here in Dubai, it wasn’t long before I was at18362828_120332000631829155_1995271059_o the hospital having the treatment. It was a simple procedure that took about 40 minutes which involved having four injections into my neck, two on each side. Once the needles were in I was then put back in the CT scanner to make sure that they were exactly in the right place at which point the doctor then injected the medicine into my neck. Piece of cake if I’m honest. Well, after having three rounds of Botox with 36 injections at a time, any injection nowadays feels like a doddle.

The full treatment consists of 2-3 rounds of injections and I was advised by the doctor to book in my second set 5-7 days from the first. The third set is normally due a couple of weeks after the second. So yesterday I had round two and I have to say that over the last few days I haven’t had any shoulder pain like I normally do. None, not even an inkling! So I honestly feel like the treatment has already hugely helped me. I can however still feel some tension at the top of my neck, around the occipital area but he advised me that the third set could be put directly in to there and done as a local procedure instead of going to the hospital which is great.

It’s funny actually, as about the time that I went to see the chiropractor and she suggested these injections I had just watched Dr Joel Saper do his talk about The Neck and Migraine at The Migraine World Summit. He advised that we have to treat the problem in the neck separately to the migraine, as two different issue’s even though they do interlink. For me this was a sign from the universe pushing me to seek out these injections, and I’m so glad I did. I thought I would share this treatment with you all friends as it might be of use to others who may be struggling with severe tension headaches. Maybe it’s something that you could ask your doctor about? Well, I will keep you updated with my progress friends.

Never forgot, when you think all is lost, there is always hope out there and some kind of new treatment to try…

 #TensionHeadache #Hope #Pain #Healing #HopeVsHeadaches #Treatment