Girl walking in country road in the autumn fog

Why is change so hard?

I’ve been pondering, what I think are some really big questions around personal change.

  1. What stops us from following through with change(s)?
  2. Why is it so difficult to implement new behaviours when we know they will support us?

So, here’s my take on why?

The thing is deep, lasting change is never easy.

Let’s face it most of the time it’s disruptive and down-right inconsiderate of our precious time, money and maybe even our reputation.

Often it’s easier and ‘less stressful’ to stick with what we know even if we know it’s not ideal for us.

We end up hanging on and hoping for the best while continuing to attract similar, difficult life situations, relationships, moods, as well as, chronic health complaints.


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Albert Einstein


Sometimes, resistance to change can be so strong that we find ourselves coming up with all sorts of reasons for why we don’t need to change or why the considered change is “out of the question right now”.

The most common ones tend to be, “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t have time”, “It’ll be too disruptive to my relationship(s)/family/work”…..

These are all logical and very plausible left brain reasons for why you can’t change.

Let’s take a closer look at these common reasons.

I can’t afford it

Money is a big one but, often (not always) when we begin to look at how and where we’re spending our money we realise that if we begin to re-arrange some of our spending habits we would be able to make this investment in ourselves.

Whether it’s replacing some of our foods/drinks with quality wholefood (nutrient dense) alternatives to engaging help from specific qualified individuals for support to investing in a ‘practitioner’ prescribed supplement/herbal regime.

I suggest giving yourself a time frame to work with especially, if you’re particularly attached to some of your food/drink/lifestyle habits. But, be realistic as real, lasting change does take time.

I’m too busy

I can’t emphasise the importance of this one enough.

When we start telling ourselves and everyone else around us that “we’re too busy”, it’s a sure sign that we’ve allowed our stress hormones to take over the running of our body and our life.

This is a state where we are unable to think clearly about ourself and what our body needs to stay balanced, healthy and calm.

We disconnect from our body’s fundamental need for food, hydration, rest, movement and sleep as, “we just don’t have time”.

While the idea of letting go of anything causes immense fear and anxiety.

Often along with all this busyness comes a deep sense that nothing is good enough so we drive ourselves to do more, be more, and possibly have more, more, more….

If this is you maybe it’s time to stop and allow yourself some space to just BE.

The process of stopping generally starts within ourself (mindfulness) and gradually works its way into our outer world step by step.

It’ll be too disruptive to my relationship(s)/family/work

This relates to the ‘people pleaser’ in us who is always saying yes and unable to say no.

Boundary setting is helpful here.

When we love, honour, value and nurture ourselves others will do the same but, it needs to come from us first.

We need to make ourselves a priority.


“When we live in a state of stress our outer world becomes more important than our inner world.” Dr Joe Dispenza


Often many of the excuses we make cover up a deeper truth which is based in childhood fears, and feelings of not being good enough or worthy enough.

These are the subconscious drivers that tend to sabotage our ability to follow through with changes.

They also inhibit us from finding that deep sense of satisfaction and contentment in our lives.


“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi


Implementing change(s) isn’t selfish.

It’s taking responsibility for who, what and how we are with ourself, others and the world around you.

When we begin reconnecting with our own innate needs we stop expecting everyone else to change so our life will be better. We have more energy and feel more alive instead of exhausted all the time. And, we start valuing all aspects of our life just the way it is.

We flourish and so will everyone around us.

So, don’t allow anything to get in the way of your own deep personal growth/change. Dig deep and find the courage and commitment (to you) to follow through with things that support your health and happiness versus those things that don’t.

You’re worth it!

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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What and how to change?

So, what do you want to change?

Is there anything you’ve been struggling to get a handle on (physical/emotional health, attitudes, behaviours….)?

Sometimes, these questions aren’t so easy to answer.

Other times there could be so many things on the agenda that it can feel overwhelming so, you don’t start at all.

This is where a daily mindfulness practice comes in handy. Taking the time to simply sit with our self without distractions from other people, techniques or visualisations. Practicing being still and present despite how we feel physically, mentally or emotionally enables space to connect deeply with our true essence and get clear about what we need to change at this point in time.


“You never change things by fighting the reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” R. Buckinster Fuller


When we realise what needs to change and start making changes it can feel messy and uncomfortable.

Louise Hay sums this up perfectly in her Change and Transition’ message saying, “When we start cleaning (changing) all of a sudden there’s dirt everywhere.”

But, if we chip away at our cleaning (changes) it will eventually get done. Plus, once we’ve completed a major spring clean it’s never as difficult again.


“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Carl Jung


Instead of focusing on what you don’t want,  focus on how you want to feel.

Jot down three words that describe these feelings. For example, I feel happy, healthy, peaceful (calm, balanced, free…..).

Remind yourself of how you want to feel daily by sticking the words onto your bathroom miror or refridgorator door.

This will help support the changes you are making from the inside out.


Take the S.M.A.R.T. approach to support change.

Sspecific, significant

Mmeasurable, motivational

A attainable, achievable, acceptable

Rrealistic, relevant, rewarding

Ttimely, tangible


Whatever you decide to change, keep it simple and, even small as, every small change will build towards your BIGGER dream.

Set gentle intentions that support your health and are possible for YOU right now as the eventual change may take time.

Reflect and focus on all the things you’ve already achieved in your life (gratitude) as ultimately, the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to learn to LOVE and ACCEPT ourselves as we are!

As we love ourselves it becomes easier to make and sustain long term changes.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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detox-diet

Belinda’s Five Pillars of Health

When we’re busy and stressed it’s helpful to have a healthy framework of non-negotiables to work with. This helps us maintain a sense of control over our life and enables us to keep making supportive diet and lifestyle choices for ourselves.

Here are my top five non-negotiables.

SLEEP

This always comes first for me as it supports me making good decisions for myself and my body. It keeps me feeling healthy and balanced.

If you’re struggling to get quality sleep, have a read of my sleep blog for helpful hints on how to improve your quality of sleep.

If you’re feeling like there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done get up earlier and go to bed earlier. Your productivity will increase five-fold.

MINDFULNESS

Practicing mindfulness throughout the day keeps me centred and grounded and in touch with what I need whether in a crowd of people or on my own.

Here’s a simple mindfulness technique: close your eyes (or look towards the ground), start to notice the air flowing in and out of your nose, then touch base with your thoughts, as well as, how you’re feeling emotionally (asking ‘how am I feeling right now?) and physically (scan your body from your toes to the top of your head) then, simply come back to your breath.

MOVEMENT

My preference of movement right now is walking outside. This is a gift I give myself often. It ticks that exercise box which supports optimal functioning of my body plus, I’m doing something I love, enjoying the great outdoors. It’s a win-win!

If you feel like you don’t have time to exercise keep in mind that all you need is 10 to 20 minutes a day (short-term). Do your best to keep it as a priority. It will help keep you balanced and support your energy levels.

WHOLEFOOD

I take an old-fashioned approach to eating. I aim to eat three wholefood meals a day that have a healthy portion of quality fat, fibre and protein.

If you’re stressed and feeling exhausted keep your meals really simple.

Here are three examples of simple meals that take me 10-15mins to prepare and are ready within 30mins: veggie omelette (eggs with loads of dark green veg), oven baked salmon with sweet potato wedges and rocket salad, stir fried broccoli with fillet steak or chicken (or tofu) and basmati brown rice.

HYDRATION

Water is always my first choice. On an average day I drink 1.5-2litres a day but, when it’s hot or I’m exercising or gardening then this will increase to 3-4litres.

To avoid dehydration aim to sip water throughout the day, if it helps set a timer to remind you, to stop and drink. If you struggle with the taste of water add slices of citrus fruit or berries to naturally enhance the flavour of your water.

Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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From surviving to thriving in winter.

Most of us either love or hate winter.

I used to be someone who craved the summer and couldn’t wait for the winter to end but, nowadays it’s one of my favourite times of the year, winter bliss!

So, what changed for me?

When I began to embrace the present moment I started to enjoy the beauty within every season.

Now instead of filling my schedule with work and activities, I plan for winter to be a time of less activity and more rest, as well as, a time to eat more warm nourishing foods and drinks.

It’s also a perfect time for me to study, reflect, plan and write.

How do you feel about winter?

Why the winter blues?

If you’re feeling tired, wired, run-down, sad, and ‘over the winter’ then you’re most likely not listening to your body and the call of nature to slow-down and take some extra time for you.

When we don’t listen to what our body needs it triggers a stress response which over time leads to a state of exhaustion.

When our body is exhausted our immune system becomes depleted so, it’s tricky for us to fight off colds or other respiratory conditions or our immunity becomes hyper-reactive so we’re more prone to allergies.

This exhaustive state also affects our hormones so we’ll tend to crave sweet or salty foods, feel sad, and lack the motivation to get up and go so, we end up dragging ourselves around with ‘the winter blues’.

How can I experience winter bliss?

If you’re feeling ‘tired’ then get more sleep.

  • Before midnight sleep is the most refreshing as it works with your body’s natural sleep/wake hormones (melatonin & serotonin).
  • While sleeping-in generally adds to tiredness and will also disrupt the quality of your sleep long term.

Feeling ‘wired’ then learn to calm down your nervous system and promote that deep sense of inner calm.

  • Practice restorative yoga for deep relaxation
  • Meditation to quiet your mind
  • Turn off your devices and have some quality you time

Feeling ‘chilly’ then here are some simple ways to keep warm all winter long.

  • Eat warm (slow cooked) spicy foods and drinks
  • Keep moving your body – gardening, walking, running
  • Have a hot bath
  • Keep your ears and neck warm by wearing a hat and scarf

Feeling ‘run-down’ or managing a cold then include  these daily.

  • Eat oranges and lemons
  • Enjoy homemade Chicken & Miso broth
  • Eat loads of fresh and colourful veggies
  • Use garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric in cooking
  • Cleanse your nasal passages using a Neti Pot

Drinking Gaia Natural Medicine’s Immune Rescue or Inner Harmony herbal tea is also a wonderful way to stay healthy and calm throughout the winter months.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

If this post was helpful please LIKE and share with your friends.

C6E4GF USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Young woman working in office. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.

Stressed to exhausted

Our bodies were designed with an innate ability to deal with stressful situations.

Way back in the dark ages we needed this response to run away from dangerous animals or to survive long-term drought and famine.

Nowadays, our bodies have to deal with information over-load and being available to friends, family (& work) 24/7. For most of us our lives are so full that we feel it’s a luxury to just sit and put our feet up.

How often do you hear your friends say, “I’m so busy! I just wish there were more hours in the day?”

Most of us are running (at least in our mind) from the moment we wake up in the morning which overtime depletes our body’s ability to deal with stress effectively.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s way of dealing with any demand whether ‘bad’ (fears, threats or injury) or ‘good’ (excitement, positive changes).

There are three known phases of stress

  1. Alarm or ‘fight and flight’: If short lived, the body generally bounces back to balance. Our stress hormone adrenaline is released and encourages blood flow away from things like digestion to our arms and legs to provide a burst of energy (adrenaline rush).
  2. Adaptation: In this second stage the body secretes a stress hormone called cortisol which enables our body to deal with more medium to long term stress. In this stage we cope and manage everyday stress quite well.
  3. Exhaustion: Overtime stressful events have an accumulative effect and the body is no longer about to adapt. By this stage our stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, as well as, other female (male) hormones are out of balance.

Common signs the body is exhausted

  • Weight gain that’s impossible to shift (esp. belly &/or back of arms)
  • Waking exhausted
  • Not able to go to sleep or stay asleep
  • Poor immunity (chronic colds/allergies)
  • Problems with digestion
  • Food cravings (salty or sweet esp. mid-arvo)
  • Hormonal issues (PMS, heavy periods, hot flushes)

3 things you can do to relieve stress

  • Create some ‘you’ time by turning off your phone/computer/tablet
  • Practice deep breathing and relaxation (restorative yoga)
  • Eat wholefoods that nourish your nervous system (dark green veggies, bananas, wholegrains, quality fats & protein)

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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Heart & belly

What you didn’t know about gut health?

How do you know if your digestion is healthy or not?

Looking at how you feel on a day to day basis is one key. Do you feel sluggish and drained of energy or energised and healthy?

Another way is to analysis your stools (poo). I know it may seem like a strange thing to do but as a naturopath it’s very normal as stools tell us a lot about what’s going on within your gut and can be the answer to why you’re suffering from chronic health and/or skin conditions.

You can learn to know the signs of a healthy digestion vs. an unhealthy one by knowing what to look for within your stools.

What is digestion?

The digestive system is a very long tube that starts with the mouth and finishes with the rectum. It acts like a factory where food is processed and prepared for the body to utilise or remove waste products that don’t serve the body.

The three stages of digestion are:

1. Breaking down food into nutrients mainly occurs in the mouth and stomach
2. Absorption of nutrients mainly occurs within the small and large intestine
3. Elimination of toxic waste occurs via the rectum (end of large intestine)

What’s normal?

It’s often tricky for people to know if their digestion is problematic as their digestive patterns have been going on since childhood and possibly reflect that of one or both parents. So, often people may think their digestion is normal when it’s not.

Some signs of poor digestion
  • Feeling sluggish and tired all the time
  • Problematic skin conditions – acne, eczema or psoriasis
  • Food intolerances – especially fructose intolerance
  • Poor immunity – slow wound healing and/or chronic infections
  • Feeling like you’re not absorbing nutrients – feeling depleted
  • Burping, indigestion, bloating, abdominal cramping, nauseousness, gas
  • No appetite or binge eating

Take a look in the loo

Get into the habit of checking out your stools before you flush.
It doesn’t take much, just look in the loo before and after you flush, and note the following signs and symptoms of healthy or unhealthy stools.

Healthy stools

1. Evacuating bowels at least once daily
2. Emptying bowels completely
3. Stools are sausage like or clumps that are formed, soft and smooth
4. Colour medium to dark brown
5. Easy to pass

Unhealthy stools

1. Inconsistent with frequency and appearance of stools
2. Not passing stools daily
3. Urgency and diarrhoea
4. Needing to strain
5. Signs of blood, mucous or undigested food

What affects digestion?

It starts with how we’re eating along with what we’re eating.
We really are what we eat and our health depends on a healthy digestive system breaking down this food properly and providing the nutrients we need to feed our body.
But, we also need to consider how we’re feeling when we’re eating as emotions have a profound effect on our ability to digest food effectively.

Foods and emotions to minimise

These foods, drinks and emotions can aggravate the gut and therefore have a negative impact on your digestion:
• Alcohol
• Caffeine
• Refined sugar
• Saturated fats
• Anger, anxiety, stress
• Over-excitement or hyperactivity

Tips for healthy digestion

Mindful eating is the key to a happy and healthy digestive system:
1. Stimulate digestion with a bitter tonic five minutes before a meal
2. Sit down to eat
3. Chew lots – savour every mouthful, place your knife and fork down between bites
4. Never drink water with meals as it dilutes stomach acid
5. Make every meal a celebration

Foods and lifestyle tips to embrace

The following foods and drinks support healthy digestion.
• Purified water: at least two litres per day.
• Soluble and insoluble fibre: fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
• Essential fatty acids: organic nut and vegetable oils.
• Fermented foods: yoghurt, keffir, kimchi, sauerkraut.
• Vegetable and lean animal protein.
• Balance exercise and relaxation daily.
• Pranayama – deep breathing techniques.

If you have any concerns about your digestive health I would advice checking with your local naturopath, as there’s so much we can do to support you establishing healthy digestion which is so vital for our overall health and vitality.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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adrenal-fatigue

Tired, sluggish and overwhelmed?

Spring is just around the corner!

For most of us it’s a magical time of the year but, for other’s it’s overwhelming as it signifies the beginning of hay fever season and all the symptoms that go along with it or a reminder that summer is just around the corner and “how am I going to lose those extra kilos I’ve put on over winter?”.

Living in tune with nature

As a naturopath I’m a big fan of living in tune with nature and particularly the seasons.

Autumn and winter are the best times for ‘withdrawing’ to restore energy and vitality. While the energies of spring and summer, are more ‘outgoing’, celebrating life.

In winter I recommend staying home and going to bed early along with warm nourishing slow cooked foods. It’s a time for extra rest and time-out to reconnect with what’s important to you.

So, come spring you’re ready to embrace more activity with increased social engagements and lighter, fresher raw foods. It’s a time for new beginnings, fresh starts and creating space to grow and achieve goals.

What happens when we disregard nature?

Unfortunately, come springtime most of us feel sluggish and completely disconnected with the present moment of our life.

Due to the busy pace of life it’s tricky to slow down and give ourselves what we need, over the winter months. We end up craving foods high in fat, sugar and starch just to keep ourselves going. These foods dys-regulate body processes including our hormones leading to feelings of sadness and dis-ease in our bodies.

The ‘D’ word

This is why most naturopaths recommend a ‘detox’ in spring. This will address three main sources of toxins 1) physical: body, mind, emotions 2) environmental and 3) spiritual.

Busting free of toxins

That sluggish feeling is generally a sign that the organs that eliminate toxins from the body (gut, liver, kidneys, skin & lungs) are burdened, while, those thoughts of being ‘over winter’ and feelings of overwhelm or simply not coping are generally the consequence of hormonal imbalances.

A naturopath can help by pointing you in the right direction for specific foods, exercise, relaxation, herbs and supplements that support detoxification processes and hormonal balance.

This will naturally increase your mood and energy levels which will lead to a more positive outlook on life, better coping strategies plus reduce the occurrence and severity of hay fever symptoms and healthy weight loss.

Creating space to grow

Toxins are all around us. From the food we eat, to the offices we work in and the air we breathe. Along with products we use on our skin and in our homes.

We can’t always change what’s around but, we can choose products that are free of nasties for ourselves and homes. We can also avoid pre-packaged foods and where possible buy organic produce or better still grow your own – all you need are some pots, quality soil, water and sunlight.

Then we can take time to de-clutter our homes and create space for the new. Give away old unworn clothes. Pull out the weeds in your garden. Clean away cobwebs from the ceiling….

Reconnecting with you

When we’re busy we don’t allow ourselves time to stop and before we know it we’re taking on all sorts of pressures and concerns that may not belong to us. This creates toxic emotions like resentment, anger and frustration.

So, it’s important as part of this detox process to support yourself energetically. Allow yourself time to BE. Have some kinesiology sessions or join a yoga or meditation class.

Where to start?

A spring detox is really an overhaul of your entire life so it’s best to have a plan and prepare for the process. Here are six steps you can do now:

  1. Start by reducing the amount of coffee, alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates your eating.
  2. For the final weeks of winter get some extra sleep and rest.
  3. If you haven’t been exercising set up a plan maybe with a friend or personal trainer.
  4. Find and book into a yoga class.
  5. Organise an appointment with a naturopath.
  6. Locate a health store or supermarket that stocks organic and alternative grain and dairy products.

For maximum benefits I would highly recommend allowing yourself 4-6 weeks, making this your sacred time to rejuvenate and re-establish balance. It’s worth it!

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

If this post was helpful please LIKE and share with your friends.

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Stress and anxiety

How many women out there feel as though there’s not enough time in the day to do everything they need to do?

From the moment many women wake up, it’s ‘all happening’, with a huge ‘to-do’ list in hand or on their mind everyday is ‘busy’. Mothers and singles both have deadlines to meet and tasks to fulfil that generally relate to others so, many women end up neglecting their own essential needs.

Eventually, the mind is unable to switch off and anxiety sets in.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety often mirrors the level of stress in our lives and is associated with a range of symptoms:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Digestive issues – IBS
  • Fatigue and/or hyperactivity
  • Inability to relax
  • Feelings of fear, worry, panic
  • Moodiness, irritability

Anxiety is a signpost

Living a busy and rushed life creates a sense of urgency which triggers a stress response in the body called ‘fight or flight’. We need this fight or flight mechanism to keep us alert and safe from danger but when it’s operating ‘all-the-time’, it becomes tricky to switch-off, so the body sets off an alarm in the form of anxiety to tell us it’s out of balance.

Stress perceptions & negative thoughts

How women think and feel about ourselves affects their ability to deal with stress and anxiety appropriately.

Most women are tormented by a little voice in their head pushing them to do more, be more, give more, regardless of the anxious signs telling them they need to stop.

Hormonal ups and downs

Living in a state of ‘fight or flight’ and anxiety directly influences female hormones (oestrogen & progesterone) along with other ‘happy’ hormones (serotonin). Eventually, the body stops producing some hormones (progesterone) and over produces others (oestrogen).

This is one of the main reasons women are experiencing so much difficulty with fertility, PMS and extreme menopausal symptoms.

Digestive disturbances

Stress and anxiety weakens digestion so food allergies and nutrient deficiencies become common and, once established, can also feed the stress and anxiety cycle along with blood sugar imbalances which are a consequence of hormonal changes (insulin) that cause sugar cravings.

Underlying medical conditions

Sometimes anxiety is caused by an undiagnosed medical condition or a consequence of taking medication. So, if anxiety has started to impact on your life in a negative way it’s best to consult both your GP and natural health practitioner so they may work together to provide you with the most appropriate treatment for you.

Feeding anxiety

When we don’t listen to the signs of anxiety excessive behaviours start to develop, especially around food. Women will either forget to eat, over eat or eat foods that don’t support health. While sitting down to eat all of a sudden becomes a luxury.

Women will do what it takes to keep going and this generally includes relying on coffee and sugar to get through the day and alcohol to wind at night. But, ultimately they all feed the anxiety cycle.

Promoting balance

Promoting balance and a state of inner calm requires some simple steps:

  • Morning exercise that makes you sweat, preferably outside
  • Breathing, resting, ‘practicing’ yoga and meditation throughout the day
  • Eating consciously: slow down, sit down, chew food lots, and right portion sizes
  • Eating wholefoods rich in: lean animal protein, vegetable oils, nuts/seeds, whole grains, legumes, variety of colourful vegetables (70% of diet) and enzyme rich fruits
  • Drinking pure water – at least two litres per day
  • Sleeping restoratively, in bed by 9.30-10pm and up between 6-7am
  • Removing or at least minimising caffeine, sugar and alcohol.

Herbal medicine is brilliant for dealing with stress and anxiety. Consult your naturopath so they may prescribe the most appropriate herbs you as an individual.

Jumping off the merry-go-round

Anxiety makes us feel like we don’t have choices, but, often we do. It’s about giving yourself enough time to recognise what these choices are.

Here are some ways to create some space in your life:

  • Practicing loving kindness towards yourself first then others.
  • Be your own best friend.
  • Give yourself permission to slow down and do one thing at a time.
  • Live consciously in the present by not dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.
  • Practice gratitude for the things in your life right now, even the little things.
  • Set yourself up for success. Look at your ‘to-do’ list, prioritise the top three and plan to complete those for the day. Anything else you complete will be a bonus.

It’s also helpful to remember these wise words from The Dalai Lama, “Without inner peace, how can we make real peace?”

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

If this post was helpful please LIKE and share with your friends.

soy-beans

Is soy good or bad for me?

I know people who can’t get enough soy but I also know others who avoid it completely as they’re afraid of potential health risks. There’s so much conflicting information out there it’s hard to know what to believe? But, take a deep breath and relax, as soy like all foods has pros and cons associated with it.

Hidden sources of soy

Soy is everywhere. Even if you’re not consciously choosing to eat soy, if you eat processed foods, you will be consuming some form of soy. Be wary of the following hidden soy ingredients:

  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein concentrate or isolate
  • Soy isoflavone concentrates
  • Textured or hydrolysed vegetable protein
  • Soy oil (common vegetable oil)

Which soy products?

Stick to traditional forms of ORGANIC soy which use the whole soybean. These sources can be fermented or non-fermented. Fermented soy is seen as the healthiest option as it enhances digestion and promotes healthy gut bacteria.

Fermented organic soy products

  • Miso – fermented soybean and grain (rice or barley) paste makes a yummy soup broth.
  • Tempeh – fermented soybeans packed tightly together to form a block and sold marinated or plain.
  • Tamari – fermented soya sauce is a great alternative to conventional soya sauce.
  • Soybean sprouts – easy to do yourself and are a highly nutritious addition to salads or stir fries.

Non-fermented organic soy products

  • Soy milk – when purchasing aim for minimal ingredients (no sweeteners, flavouring, or additives of any description) and make sure it is made from ‘whole soybeans’. You could even make your own.
  • Tofu – soybean curd available in silken or firm types are great alternatives to fish, meat and eggs.

Avoiding the nasties

To avoid nasties (toxic metals & chemicals) and the potential harmful effects of soy, stay clear of any genetically modified (GM) soy which is likely to be used in most non-organic products. Aim to buy organic soy products only as, they are ultimately the only reliable and health promoting source.

Soy an original ‘super-food’

Soy is one of the best food sources of phyto-estrogens. Phyto-estrogens can balance oestrogen levels in the body. So if you suffer from a condition where oestrogen is dominant (heavy menstrual bleeding) phyto-estrogens can block oestrogen and reduce symptoms. Whereas, if you struggle with low levels of oestrogen, like in menopause, phyto-estrogens are able to enhance oestrogen levels and reduce harmful risk factors and debilitating symptoms associated with menopause.

Benefits of soy

When soy is consumed in moderation (1-2 serves per day) as part of a balanced, wholefood diet it has these potential health benefits:

  • Reduces risk of hormone related cancers – prostate and breast
  • Hormone balancing – alleviating heavy menstrual bleeding and menopausal symptoms
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Osteoporosis prevention and treatment

Most of the negative press around soy is related to GM and highly processed soy products along with excessive daily intake.

Some potential drawbacks

Here are some considerations when consuming soy:

    • If you’re allergic or sensitive to dairy products you could also be with soy. Soy and dairy are both know in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as ‘damp’ foods which can enhance the production of phlegm.
    • A substance called ‘goitrogens’ are found in soy. They suppress thyroid function by interfering with the body’s ability to use iodine. Also found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. Are destroyed by lightly cooking.
    • As soy can interfere with thyroid function metabolism can become sluggish adding to fluid retention and weight gain.
    • Soy along with other legumes and grains contains phytic acid which binds to minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron) potentially causing nutrient deficiencies. Soak and sprout to remove phytic acid.
    • Soy formulas are not recommended for infants as may promote soy allergies.

 

Points to remember

  1. Eat ORGANIC soy products only and avoid all GM
  2. Eat soy in moderation as part of a balanced, wholefood diet
  3. Enjoy 1-2 serves of traditional soy a day
  4. Check food labels for unwanted and often nasty soy by-products

Where to from here?

If you still have concerns about soy, consult your naturopath or clinical nutritionist for guidance. We can do allergy testing to ascertain if you’re body is coping with soy and point you in the right direction for the best foods (soy or not) for your particular constitution and health status.

Ultimately, the better you know yourself the better equipped you will be to know what foods are right for you or not, including soy.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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Hormonal imbalance and PMS.

Hands up, if you struggle with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and just thought it was normal. Growing up I certainly did; now I know different. As a naturopath I’ve learnt that ‘our hormones don’t have to control our life.’ But, in order for this to be a reality we need to take responsibility for how we’re choosing to live our lives, right now.

Habits that influence our hormones.

Think about how you’re living your life and the choices you are making in relations to these:

  1. What chemicals you’re putting into and on your body?
  2. How much exercise you’re doing?
  3. Are you practicing relaxation and living consciously in the moment?
  4. Do you manage stress effectively?
  5. Are you getting quality sleep?
  6. What your diet is like and how much water you’re drinking?

Our attitudes, expectations and experience of life also plays a role in the development of hormonal imbalance and PMS.

Tell tale signs of hormonal imbalance

There are four different categories of PMS relating to specific hormonal imbalances and associated symptoms. Here are the categories:

  1. PMS-A: ‘Anxiety’, mood swings, tension, insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations
  2. PMS-C: ‘Cravings’, increased appetite, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sweating
  3. PMS-D: ‘Depression’, clumsy, forgetful, feeling hopeless, crying, fatigue, low libido
  4. PMS-H: ‘Hyperhydration’ or fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness, weight gain

Others include (1) PMS-P: pain, back pain, period pain, clotting, migraines, reduced pain tolerance and (2) PMDD: premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe PMS that interferes with a woman’s ability to perform normal daily activities.

You may experience one or a combination of these over a defined period of time (up to 2 weeks prior to onset of bleeding). Other signs of hormonal imbalance include acne (especially around the chin) and erratic periods and/or ovulation.

Our bodies are designed to maintain balance

PMS is purely our body’s way of telling us our hormones are out of balance. By recognising which category(s) you fall into you can pin point what you need to do in order to support the body to bring your hormones back into balance. Natural medicine can offer a wealth of assistance here. You can start by monitoring your cycle (there are some great apps out there) which will help you recognise different patterns.

8 attainable strategies for maintaining hormonal balance

The key here is to live in a way that will maintain a healthy stress response along with healthy gut bacteria and liver detoxification of unwanted hormones. Here are my tips:

  1. Eat wholefoods (preferably organic) while avoiding processed foods. Specific foods to include: cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), bitter greens (rocket), fermented foods, fibre (whole grains & legumes), quality protein and fats (nuts/seeds & plant oils), phytoestogens (Non-GMO soy products & flaxseeds).
  2. Balance daily morning exercise with moments of relaxation throughout the day and evening.
  3. Get eight hours of quality sleep a night by practicing sleep hygiene
  4. Keep hydrated by adding Celtic salt to your purified drinking water
  5. Avoid non-organic animal products (dairy, meat, poultry, eggs)
  6. Avoid xenoestrogens: pesticides, plastics, commercial cosmetic and cleaning products, medications (contraception, HRT, analgesics, etc.)
  7. Avoid or minimise alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake
  8. If you’re overweight engage in a safe, long term weight reduction program.

Living consciously ensures a positive outcome

To help you understand what’s going on with your hormones and to get the most appropriate treatment strategy for you I recommend working with a naturopath. While practicing restorative (or yin) yoga will support your nervous system by teaching you to relax and manage stress effectively and effortlessly.

By gaining understanding and reducing stress you will learn how to live consciously and in the moment which will enable you to listen, love and nurture your body. This will help you recognise when your hormones are out of balance and know what you need to do to re-balance them.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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