Carbohydrate and sweet cravings – interrupting the pattern

Carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and sweet foods are common in today’s society. Often they run out of control due to additives which further increase our cravings. It is therefore important to be educated about what you are eating in order to stay on track and in control.

Many people say that cravings happen mostly in the evening when sitting in front of the TV or computer after a hard day. Often without even thinking you head for the fridge. There, you can grab the left over bowl of pasta and the junk foods that are stored in our cupboards. The result is to put on weight, have night reflux and other digestive problems due to eating so late. People often wonder why they get these cravings and it could be that there is a nutritional deficiency but most of the time it’s just a bad habit to satisfy emotional needs.

How to avoid cravings

The first way to avoid these craving is to just go cold turkey.  Empty your kitchen cupboards, fridge or any other place where you keep food and throw out all the junk foods. They are better off in the bin than your stomach. It is important to be conscious in the supermarket to not even buy the products at all. Cut chips, chocolate and biscuits off your grocery list. Even some of the yummy gluten free ones. If they are not there you can’t eat them. Instead keep some fruit and yogurt handy in the fridge and make it a rule not to eat at least on hour before bedtime. If you are craving carbohydrates and sweets, drink water. Sometimes you may find you are just tired and it’s time to go to sleep. Get a good night’s sleep and have a good healthy breakfast in the morning.

Watch out for the triggers

Keep an eye out for the triggers that spark the cravings for carbs and sweets. What is it that puts that thought into your mind that you need them? What are you doing when that happens? Possibly, the coffee after dinner? Relaxing in front of the TV or checking your emails late at night when you are tired ad bored can trigger the desire for a sweet reward. Are you too stressed or emotionally sensitive and could your desire for those carbs be a way of looking for a ‘sweeter life’? Have you come to look at chocolate and carbs as your friend to make up for those lonely moments when you feel neglected? Also be aware that some medications can stimulate your appetite. Anti-depressants, other prescription drugs, non-prescription medical drugs and recreational drugs can also be triggers to eat more food than you normally would and increase those cravings. If any of these things are happening you need to be aware of it, discuss it with your doctor and take some positive action. Look for natural alternatives perhaps to your medication which may not have the same effect. Remember also to put some ‘de-stress’ activities into your day – have a bubble bath, meditate, go for a walk, chat with an old friend or even read a good book. All these things will fill the craving you have for comfort and nurturing so you can substitute pleasurable experiences for the food and you may find those cravings disappear.

Building self-control

Build self-control perhaps by having just a mouthful or one chocolate square and then stop. Sometimes that is enough to curb your craving and you can deflect from it. Go and do something else. However, if the trigger is emotional it will not go away on its own. You need a good support network of friends or family that can assist you. You need people around that will remind you to not eat that chocolate late at night or to perhaps have less pasta on the plate. However they need to remind you in a gentle nurturing way, not as a judgement. Craving for carbs and sweets has probably been a habit for some time so perhaps some extra help seeing a natural therapist will assist finding a way to change the pattern and resolve the issue.

If you are going to control your cravings for carbs it’s important to never skip a meal. In fact make sure you eat at least 5 times a day to keep your glucose levels balanced. Eat a healthy breakfast to start your day and drink lots of water to flush toxins. If the cravings for carbs and sweets occurs during the day divert yourself some way. I tell people when they come to see me for Hypnotherapy to give up smoking that the craving for a cigarette usually lasts only about three minutes and to divert their attention from it and wait it out. Similarly just deflect from the cravings for carbs and sweets and tell yourself to wait a minute and just wait it out. You will be surprised how easily sometimes the craving will subside. Sometimes you can divert yourself with a drink of water, an interesting hobby, exercise or meditation, Exercise will increase endorphins which will help and meditation will assist in calming your mind and emotions.

Hormonal disorders

Although most of the time craving for sweets and carbs is just a bad habit sometimes it can be due to out of control hormones. Cravings often increase when women have their monthly menstrual cycle and this can be a symptom that your hormones are not working properly. If your cycle is accompanied by stomach pains, sore breasts, bloating, mood swings and clots as well as an intensified craving for carbs and sweets please seek help from a natural therapist. Feeling ill and edgy only increases the cravings. This is not how your monthly cycle should make you feel even though many women do feel this way at least for 10 days before they are due to have their monthly period.

The bottom line is that there can be many reasons for cravings; all of them with negative consequences for your health. Stay away from the sweet corridor of the supermarket, swap your diet for healthy products and change your night-time habits. Be kind to yourself and don’t take on too much at one time. Realise that you can do it better tomorrow if you mess up today and start again. Do whatever you need to in order to get that control back and be on the road to a healthier life.

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Work stress – minimising its effect

Stress due to work conditions is one of the main occupational hazard and despite companies making consistent efforts to reduce stress at work it is still steadily on the increase. It seems that claims related to stress have a much higher cost in comparison to physical claims, such as injuries, and work related stress claims account for the longest periods of absence.

Stress related to work concerns not only to employees who have to deal with it but also for employers who must ensure a safe and healthy workplace in regards mental health issues. This means it is an employer’s duty of care to not only worry about physical risk but also potential mental and emotional risks.

Not all workers present similar trends when stressed. People who work or are related to community services, teaching, or in the force such as police and rescue services or those who have experienced a major trauma at work are more inclined to present high stress levels.

The bad news though is that some people may present a predisposition to be stressed when suitable conditions are not met in the workforce. So what appears like just a challenge to one person, can appear as an insurmountable problem to another. This may present great challenges for employers as they have to be aware of these conditions and monitor their employees wherever possible. It therefore becomes important to understand how stress could be affecting you and to liaise with your HR and management to make them aware of your needs.

Symptoms of Stress

Symptoms of stress can vary from headaches to muscle tension, feeling tired, anxiety, sleep disorders, feeling overwhelmed, panic attacks, unclear thinking and impaired ability to make decisions. The most important task for employers is to identify signs of stress (the symptoms) and then, try to identify what are the potential sources that are causing stress.
Employers need to watch for decreases in productivity, bullying in the workplace, an increase in absenteeism – especially for stress leave, people working too long hours for too long a period of time. All this could lead to an increase in mental health claims.

Causes of You Stress

The most common cause of stress is feeling like you’ve got too much to do and not enough resources to do it with. This is called overwhelm. Those resources may include the idea of a lack of mental and physical energy, support, and control. There are a number of things that can happen at work that can make you feel this way. Everything from trying to do too much with too short a deadline to feeling out of control over how you work. Is someone bullying you or making it difficult for you? Is your job stimulating enough or lost its meaning? Are you clear in what you need to do and is feedback constructive or belittling? Do you feel secure in your job? All these things contribute to work related stress.

How to Deal with the Stress

Some problems can be addressed directly to the manager or team leader or some other staff. If it is an issue concerning safety it should be reported as soon as possible as it could cause further serious injury – physical or emotional. The key element though in changes in work procures is for both management and staff to work together to provide a better work environment so managers or team leaders must be trained to be supportive and understanding. Unaware management or management stuck in old routines are many times the main source of issues in workplaces.

Once you have identified the source of stress you are in a better position to identify ways of reducing it. Management can modify your job or hold seminars to teach staff new ways to cope. These activities may include meditation and relaxation, breaks for going for a walk, providing people who are supportive and non-judgmental as a sounding board or counselling. Physical and social activities in the office do a lot to break up the intensity by providing quality down time. Management needs to be aware to present healthy food and to notice staff that are not getting on well. All management and staff should be aware to report bullying or harassment issues immediately before they get out of hand.

There needs to be perhaps a new mindset about how your employees think about work. Management can play a key role in this by having training sessions for staff. In Australia statistics show that a high discontent (70% of the population) are not happy with the jobs that they now have. Co-operation and communication are the key to changing this.

Often employees become so immersed in their own worries at home that they forget that the job they are winging about is putting food on the table for them and their families. Appreciation and gratitude are two of the most powerful ways to turn stress into motivation. The energy of that can be used in a positive way to motivate staff further. However it is important that employees have the correct tool kit to become aware of how appreciated they are to give that feedback. Our organisation delivers courses to staff and employers on how to reduce stress and keep staff motivated whilst increasing productivity.

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Chemicals lower testosterone in men

overwork man at deskStudies show that a chemical found in plastics and soap can affect insulin resistance and weight in men. Further to this it is known that phthalates, which are in various shampoos, soaps, lotions, lubricants, paint, pesticides, plastics and cosmetics and in some drugs can affect reproduction. The study shows that almost 75% of our population are affected. Results are from test cases in their urine tests.

These chemicals and other environment pollutants could lower testosterone levels and affect sperm quality. The effects have been studied in the USA over the last 30 years or more.

Researchers have theorised that this class of chemicals, as well as other environmental pollutants, may be lowering testosterone levels in men and responsible for the substantial declines in testosterone levels and sperm quality that have occurred in the United States and other countries over the last several decades.

Animal studies in the past found that these phthalates have led to lower testosterone and recently it was also found they led to poor semen quality in men and changes in the reproductive organs in male children.

It was also found that because of the lower testosterone men put on weight around the middle and were more predisposed to diabetes. They analysed many different body samples such as urine, blood etc. from people of different ethnicity for over 3 years and of the men participating found a definite link.  Lowered levels of testosterone can also cause other problems in men and it is important that this is checked. All men should take a zinc supplement given the lack of minerals in our water and the deficiency this leads to in most men in Australia. It is also important to not wear underwear that is too tight and to not have showers that are too hot. This becomes especially important if your partner is attempting to fall pregnant. Your diet, amount of alcohol you drink and whether you smoke or not will all affect your sperm levels.


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Osteoporosis – what you can do to help

bonesOsteoporosis more commonly hits in your older years due to hormone changes however younger people can get osteoporosis as it’s not a normal part of ageing. It can affect both men and women. Osteoporosis is a disease that thins the bones and can lead to them fracturing easily. Often after menopause when a woman’s body stops producing oestrogen, which protects the bones, you can get osteoporosis. People who have not taken enough calcium throughout their life can also contract the disease. Other things such as smoking too much, lack of vitamin D, long term medication for thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, too much alcohol, or a family history of the disease can play a part in contracting the disease. You may also be at risk if you have not had menstrual periods for some time.

When people get older and their bones thin with the disease the risk of a hip fracture increases. Often there are no symptoms. Some people don’t even know until they have a small accident and damage themselves. They then experience the pain of a fracture or a collapsed vertebrae.

If you do have osteoporosis you should be aware of the dangers in your own home. Situations that may cause you to fall should be avoided such as items lying all over the floor. If you do fall it could result in fracture. Easy ways to help safeguard your home is to ensure there is good lighting both inside and out, be careful when getting in and out of the shower and removing slippery rugs or mats that may cause you to trip. Other ways to help with osteoporosis could be to give up smoking and take it easy on drinking alcohol. Maintain a healthy body weight and be sure to not lose weight too quickly as this can contribute to bone loss.

Regular exercise will help protect your body. You need about 30 minutes a day. Weight bearing exercises are the best as these put weight on your skeleton which builds strength and better balance. Walking, jogging, dancing and yoga are also good exercises to do. You should also try to have a healthy diet and add a few supplements if needed with regular health check-ups with a trained professional.

The doctor may send you for a bone density test. If you are taking regular medication you need to check if it is affecting your bone density. Some menopausal women may find that their bones weaken faster than others and even hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not take out the risk factor of weaker bones. When women stop taking HRT, they experience as much bone loss as they would have lost at menopause which is why it is a good idea to have a bone density test at menopause and another at ceasing HRT. If you attend to osteoporosis early in the picture however your doctors can treat the osteoporosis with drugs that help prevent the bone loss and help rebuild the bone. Remember though that there are health risks associated with taking drugs especially HRT.

If you have osteoporosis or want to prevent it then it is important to have a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. A lot of milk and cheese can be bad for your sinuses though so a daily multivitamin can be a good way to boost your calcium. Eating leafy green vegetables and salmon is good for you. Make sure you have a few minutes in the sun every day for your vitamin D levels and it’s a good idea to visit your natural therapist to check exactly what supplements you should be taking so you don’t become deficient. If you attend to all of the above you will find that the burden of having an illness such as osteoporosis is not quite as hard to deal with and in many ways preventable.

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Migraines – A big headache with solutions

migraine headache 1 picMigraine is a physical disease that can be due to many factors which makes any sort of treatment difficult to implement. Nevertheless, as it is very common we need to look at ways to make it manageable. Migraine can be associated with many symptoms such as, headache, nausea, vomiting and difficulties in vision that may include sensitivity to light or even ear problems. So because migraine is so complex medication is not a reliable solution and it may be better in the long-term to seek alternative remedies which look at the causes of the issue rather than the temporary solution to the pain.

There are two main types of migraine commonly recognised migraine (migraine without aura – namely the symptoms) and classic migraine – migraine with aura (the symptoms beforehand). The former is characterised by a moderate to strong headache without warning. This type is the most common and comes with nausea, confusion blurred vision, mood changes, fatigue, sensitivity to light, smells and sounds. The frequency can be from a few times in a year to weeks and it can have a duration from 4 to 72 hours.  The second type, Classic migraines,  are preceded by visual disturbances such as flashing lights, and other neurological symptoms that are suffered for 10 to 60 minutes before the actual headache comes. Classic migraines generally last up to one hour but can develop slowly into a throbbing ache, which gets worse with movement or noise. The major problem is that both types can be found in the same patient or the symptoms are overlapped which makes it difficult to classify a patient based upon the symptoms and therefore, predict the type of migraine in the short-term.

Migraines are attributed to changes in neurotransmitters and blood vessels diameter in the brain. What causes these changes is not clear however – it has been associated with some external factors such as stress, type of food which include cheese, alcohol, chocolate or even the irregularity in having meals which causes a drop in blood sugar. Other factors associated with migraines are over tiredness and hormonal changes such as menstruation. Women during menstruation are 10% more susceptible to migraines as there is a drop in estrogen at that time.

It seems that the most appropriate way to reduce the headaches is to search for potential causes. The most common headaches tend to fall into certain categories outlined below thus, you need to decide which most closely matches yours from the list below before you continue with further treatments. It is recommended to keep a record of what triggers your headaches. This is because the cause can be everything from feeling low, the weather, your menstrual cycle, what you eat and when and how well you sleep. Look for food triggers and make a list of all the foods you eat in the last two days before an attack to see if there is any relationship.

* Cluster Headaches – These strike with little warning, often waking up sufferers at night. The pain usually affects just one side of the face and centres on the eye area. It lasts from a few minutes up to three hours. The frequency can be up to 10 times a day for six to 10 weeks at a time (not nice) during a cluster period. This type can then disappear for months or even years. No one is really sure of the cause but some studies have found a relationship between irritations on some facial nerves with the appearance of cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are more common in men than women, especially if they smoke or drink.

* Tension Headache – This is very common and is a dull, steady pain on both sides of the head. It can feel like a tight band or heavy weight is pressing on the head. It has a strong correlation with stress. The symptoms associated with stress are an increase in the tension of the muscles of the neck and scalp. As it is a muscular response it can also be due to posture, sitting in a draught, bright lights, too much noise or working for long periods sitting in an awkward position.

* Chronic daily headache – These occur on more than half of each month. They can be due to a neck or head injury such as whiplash or overuse of painkillers. Yes, you read it right! People who take painkillers on a daily basis develop a vicious cycle and as these wear off there is a rebound headache so the person takes more painkillers and these fuel the headaches yet again.

One alternative remedy that has been very successful with many people suffering migraine is the herb Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew). This herb is available at your health food store and should be taken for a minimum period of three months. The taste of Feverfew is bitter but it is worth it! You can even grow your own plants if you are so inspired and have a flesh supply of the herb throughout the year.

The intake of Feverfew has been validated by a study that used a supplement containing this herb and Salix Alba (white willow) which found that the moderate intake of these reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraine attacks. Clients with migraine were given a supplement (Mig-RL) containing extracts of Feverfew and white willow twice a day for 12 weeks. Results showed that 70% of patients experienced a 50% reduction in migraines (some even higher) compared to the frequency of attacks experienced during a 6 week baseline period. 57.2% of clients experienced reduced attacks halfway through the study (6 weeks), and a 61.7% reduction at 12 weeks. The actual length of the attacks also decreased. In all patients involved in the study, the duration of attacks reduced by 67.2% at 6 weeks, and 76.2% at 12 weeks. The side effects of the combination of Feverfew and white willow had also a positive impact as it was associated with improvements in health, energy, memory and anxiety.

There are many natural therapies for headaches including chiropractic, cranial osteopathy, homeopathy, reflexology, rolfing, acupressure, herbal remedies, massage, aromatherapy, modification of diet, head balancing and jaw realignment. Head balancing can also be used for snoring, dizziness, grinding of teeth, ringing in the ears and neck and shoulder tension. Consult a practitioner experienced in diagnosis to determine which would be best for you.

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Your Bad Digestion Can Cause Many Illnesses

bad digestion may 2017 hamburger friesThe digestive system is the centre of your wellbeing. If your digestion is not working properly then nothing else will. Many people when I tell them about this give me a strange look adding that they go to the bathroom every day, or every few days and yes, they are occasionally constipated. So what? It is a big deal. It will make you sick.

If you are feeling fatigued, bloated, have heartburn, constipation or stomach cramps you could be suffering from an underlying problem. If you have hormone issues, thyroid issues then you definitely have an underlying problem. If you have aches and pains and inflammation then you also have a bad digestion. These symptoms all relate to having a digestive system that isn’t working properly. Other signs will be the colour of your stools, floating stools, undigested food or mucus in the toilet.

Our digestive system breaks down and absorbs your food. Protein is broken down by the stomach and carbohydrates and fats are broken down in the small intestine. We need digestive juices created by the stomach, liver, and gall bladder, to help you digest your food. If we do not produce enough of these juices it then leads to poor digestion as your food won’t break down properly.

Most people don’t realise that having a healthy digestive system is very important to help you stay healthy. Your gastrointestinal tract is linked to most diseases, however to have a digestive problem you don’t actually have to have anything wrong with your stomach which is why people tend to not understand this topic properly.

When the colon isn’t working properly you may feel pain, bloating, nausea and have flatulence, diarrhea or constipation. This is called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is commonly caused by stress or lack of fibre or food allergies. Other things that can cause your digestive system to stop working properly can include not drinking enough water, too much coffee, poor diet, too much alcohol, smoking, pollution, too much sugar and overeating.

Testing for food intolerances is a good way to find out what exactly is going on and can help control it. This can be done by either a blood test or saliva and hair testing. These both test for different things – either an allergy or an intolerance to the foods that could be causing the problem.

A lot of people are sensitive to things such as wheat, yeast, gluten, dairy, sugar and possibly some fruits. If you are sensitive to one or more of these foods it can build up in the body and sits there fermenting causing gas. It can then leak into the bloodstream and cause illness. If this is happening to you the only way to heal is to stop eating the foods you are intolerant to and to find out what these are you need to do the sensitivity test.

Diseases such as those named above and Coeliac disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease as well as Depression, Diverticulitis and even PMT can all be caused by having an unhealthy digestive system. A naturopath can help you take back control of your body and better your health. We also do sensitivity testing at our clinic.

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Diverticulosis – Stomach Cramps, Irregular Bowels, Bloating

diverticulosis april 2017Do you suffer from abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea, or bloating and gas? This could all be caused by a weakness in the large intestines which creates sac-like pouches to form into the intestines. When these pouches get faeces trapped between the sacs it becomes infected and the infection causes all of the above symptoms. This is called Diverticulosis.

Diverticulosis is more common in people over the age of 60. It can cause nausea and vomiting as well as fever and chills. If the condition gets worse complications cause the intestine wall to narrow. It can also cause holes in the colon, fistulas and abscesses which lead to many other health problems.

Treating diverticulosis can occur in a number of ways. If it is only a minor case there are a few things you can do naturally. A change in diet will help. Avoid foods that may aggravate the infected area such as too much fibre in beans, pea, coarse grains, popcorn and dried fruits. Bed rest will often help if you are experiencing a bout of diverticulosis. Severe issues may lead to a need for an operation to resolve the problem.

It is important to see a naturopath or nutritionist to help you make the proper changes in your diet to lessen your symptoms. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help with pain and symptoms. Chinese medicine recommends eating warm liquids such as soup, which is easier to digest. Your naturopath or nutritionist can help create a meal plan that would best suit your needs when suffering from diverticulosis.

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