anxiety, blood pressure, Children, Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy

Parenting, Building Confidence in Children, and Future Health

Build up self-esteem in your child through positive body language and kind words.

I’ve just read a blog post by Brene Brown about an Oprah interview with author Toni Morrison which really made me think about my behaviour as a parent.

In the interview with Oprah, Toni speaks about how we can influence a child’s confidence and their self-image in ways that we don’t even realise. Here’s the link to the original post by Brene.

According to Toni, children gather information about their parents’ feeling towards them based on their initial reactions (whether they be positive or negative) on each meeting.

For instance, as a parent, do you immediately pick up on your child’s uncombed hair, food stained clothes, muddy shoes etc?

Or do you smile, happy to see them, first?

When I read this, I thought to my own behaviour, and recognised that I can be quick to criticise, without even intending to.

The problem isn’t with the criticism itself – as parents, we need to be able to tell our children not to get mud on the carpet etc – but what’s important is that the criticism isn’t the first thing they always hear.

What is that criticism (if it’s the first thing out of your mouth) telling them about themselves and what you think about them? Does your body language, or do your words, demonstrate your love, or does it tell them there is something wrong with their appearance, behaviour or choices?

If you don’t think well of them, how can they think well of themselves? And how will these micro-criticisms impact their self-esteem in the long term?

This interests me, not only as a parent, but as a nutritional therapist. A person’s health and wellbeing is all tied up in self-esteem and stress.

If we don’t think well of ourselves we send ourselves negative messages:

You’re such a mess.

Why can’t you do a simple thing like that?

What an idiot!

These self-criticisms – where we can’t be kind to ourselves – become a form of stress.

As I’ve mentioned previously, stress affects cortisol levels which, if not managed, can negatively impacts health – both mental and physical.

So how can we help our kids to develop better attitudes towards themselves and as a result, become healthier adults?

Well, I suppose initially, that lies with us and our behaviour towards them. The way we react to our kids can either enhance of undermine self-image and resilience. If we manage our reactions positively, this ultimately has a beneficial impact on their future health.

As Brene says in her blog post, don’t let the first comment to your child each time you see them be a negative one. By being kind to them, we teach them to be kind to themselves.

Say something nice, or “flash a smile” before you ask them to move their belongings (that have taken up residence on the living room floor for the last three days!)

Even if they don’t show it, your smile or kind words will mean so much, and it’s another way of telling them you love them.

Plus, it also takes the sting out of the fact they’ve got to clear up after themselves!

I’m going to try it.

What about you?

Health and Wellbeing, Interview, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, Wellness

Interview with Three Valley Vegans

Interview between Three Valley Vegans and myself.

When I took part in the Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival last weekend, I was approached by Elizabeth King from Three Valley Vegans to do an interview for their blog and newsletter, and also, to arrange a talk in Hebden Bridge for next year. I’m always extremely happy to do these events because I love getting out there to encourage the general population to eat more healthily and help everyone understand how easy it can actually be.

Although the majority of my client’s aren’t vegan, I’ve been vegan for over 5 years, and I love to share the health benefits of eating a diet higher in plant based foods. Just adding a few more fruits and vegetables into your diet can make a huge difference to wellbeing.

Here in the interview I talk about why I became vegan, why I became a nutritional therapist, why we become ill, why chronic disease is on the rise, how we can help our bodies to fight disease, and why we sometimes find it difficult to stick to a healthy eating regime. I’ve also added a link to the popular Chickpea Blondie recipe I take as a taster to events. It’s simple to make and healthy too.

This film available on Netflix is my initial motivation for becoming vegan – health, animals and environment.

Hope you enjoy both the recipe and the interview! Let me know what you think.

Here’s the link to the interview:

Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy, Uncategorised, Wellness

Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival

So tomorrow I’m going to be at the first Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival. I’m very excited about this.

The Rochdale area where I live isn’t renowned for being at the forefront of health and wellness – in fact, I think it’s one of the top unhealthy places in the country – but recently there has been an surge of interest, and this is the second festival I will attend this year (the third will be at Hollingworth Lake in September – watch this space!)

The festival will take place in Milnrow Park, and fortunately, the weather is forecast to be sunny, which is GREAT! Sunny weather means more people are likely to come to learn about all the good things that can be done to help both your physical and mental wellbeing.

There are going to be lots of tasters and sessions for people to join in with. Bring your trainers and look at the schedule when you get there if you’d like to participate in the Zumba or Yoga! No need to bring your mats though as these are being provided by a local company.

I can’t wait to meet like-minded people from the local area. On my stall I’ll have information about ways to improve your diet and relieve stress (a huge factor in poor health), plus some recipes for healthy snacks and desserts. I’ll be handing out some sweet treats too that are actually good for you, and offering a chance for someone to win an initial consultation worth over £100. If you’re interested in improving a health condition, please take part. There’s no greater investment than looking after yourself.

So, that’s all for now, but if you are attending the festival tomorrow, please come over and say hello. It would be a real pleasure to meet you.

food, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, pain management, sleep, stress, Uncategorised, Wellness

Are You On a Diet, Or is it a Fad?

I just had an experience that got me thinking …

My online food shop was delivered and the driver was helping me to unpack.

‘This is a lot of fruit and veg,’ he said.

‘Mmmm, yes it is.’ (In our house, we individually eat about 7-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which is the recommended amount for good health).

‘Are you on a diet,’ he said, ‘or is it a fad?’

‘No – nope, this is how we eat all the time.’

His jaw dropped.

I can’t read minds, but I could sense that he thought I was one strange cookie.

I thought it was funny as it happened, but now a little while later, I’m wondering why it’s considered ‘a fad’ (for ‘fad’ read ‘weird’) to have lots of fruits and vegetables as a regular part of your diet.

If my shopping had been full of processed foods – cakes, biscuits, crisps, white bread, sausages, ready meals etc – he wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. It’s certainly a sad state of affairs that a week’s worth of processed foods, to him, would be considered a ‘normal diet’.

I don’t think he’s alone in this. Over the years I’ve had lot of comments made on my food choices by cashiers as I pass my shopping through the checkout.

I wonder what’s happening to us as a society that we see foods containing lots of artificial additives and sweeteners as the norm (while some of the ingredients are not even recognisable as real foods), yet if we eat a diet of simple, fresh produce it’s seen as questionable behaviour?

If eating ‘junk’ is a normal way of eating, no wonder we are witnessing a rise in chronic diseases, including bowel cancer in the young. This has been found to be directly related to lifestyle factors (including ‘worsening diet‘), and is worrying for the next generations, who will pick up the eating habits of their parents. I wonder if eventually our young will even know what a fresh fruit or vegetable looks like? We already have a situation where many young people can’t identify what animal particular meat products come from. We are becoming increasingly dislocated from our natural food sources.

It’s definitely time we start rethinking the way we look at food.

I like the fact that I am in a position through my work to help people to learn the benefits of healthier eating and guide them to make better choices. It can take a little time to get your head around it, but often my clients are surprised at how easy it can be. Understanding the purpose of healthy eating is the main thing (people don’t realise there is a link between diet and issues such as insomnia, anxiety, joint pains, stress, fatigue, depression etc) which is where I come in as a nutritional therapist.

If you don’t eat a lot of fresh produce, why not make a start by adding a portion of fruit or veg to your day today?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

anxiety, blood pressure, Health and Wellbeing, stress, Wellness

Naturally Speaking

Yesterday I took my daughter for a chilly but beautiful walk in Tandle Hill Country Park in Oldham. It was just what we needed after being cooped up earlier in the day. We both felt brilliant. 

For those who love nature, it will be no surprise to learn that studies have found nature-based therapy dramatically improves mental wellbeing, so if you regularly feel under par, get yourself out there into nature more often. Many of us live in urban areas and rarely see a forest, mountain or waterfall, and it’s having detrimental effects on our health. Giving yourself a hefty dose of vitamin “green” has potent effects on:

  • how our cells function
  • our immunity
  • our brain and nervous system

It’s even been found that post-surgical patients have improved recovery if exposed to a natural scene from the window of their room.

As for forest walking, studies find it has beneficial effects on:

  • heart and lung health
  • blood pressure
  • immunity and inflammation
  • blood sugar balance
  • stress
  • cognitive function
  • balancing emotions

So even though it may be cold, drag yourself away from that screen.

Your body and mind will thank you for it. 

#foresttherapy#health#wellbeing#mentalwellbeing#nature#vitaming#nutritionaltherapy#nutritionaltherapypractitioner

Health and Wellbeing, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, stress, Wellness

Stress and Negative Health Effects


I’m currently reading ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate. It’s an interesting and readable book about the effects of stress on our health outcomes. It describes not just the stresses we feel on a day-to-day basis, but also how our responses to stress might become hyper-reactive due to certain childhood experiences. Many people don’t even recognise their stress because it becomes part of who they are. This doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging however. He connects chronic stress (and our responses to it) as an underlying factor in every disease, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and Arthritis.

Gabor Mate's book "When the Body Says No" describes the detrimental effects stress has on our health outcomes - from heart disease to Motor Neurone Disease - stress is at the foundations of every health issue.

The problem with chronic stress is that over time it starts to negatively affect the body. Constant cortisol release puts the body in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means the body is in a state where it is ready to escape, so the focus is taken away from important systems such as:

– the immune system
– the digestive system
– the reproductive system

As a result, our body is:

– unable to digest food and absorb nutrients as efficiently as it should; 

You might begin to suffer from more

– colds, allergies, food intolerances and other immune-related issues; 

Or you might experience symptoms connected with hormone imbalances.

In high levels, cortisol becomes inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked with poor health outcomes. 

Cortisol is also linked with energy and the sleep cycle. When it becomes dysregulated through stress you may start to experience symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue.

Taking more time to relax, meditate, and sleep well all have a beneficial effect on your stress levels, and ultimately your health. Put away your gadgets 90 minutes before bedtime too. You may use them as a way to relax, but they have proven detrimental effect on our stress levels.

There are also dietary factors that impact cortisol release, so remember, reducing stress is not only about what you do, and how you perceive and respond to stressors, but also include the quality of the foods (and drinks) you put into your mouth.

Uncategorised

Ways To Up Your Greens – Part 2

In the last two posts I’ve talked about the nutritional benefits of green leafy vegetables, and how to get more of them into your diet.  Today, I finish off this topic with a few more suggestions of when and how you can enjoy these as a part of your daily diet.

  1. Make a rocket soup!  It’s absolutely packed to the brim with leafy greens yet you’d never know it.  It’s also so easy, yet so fresh and delicious.
  2. Pack a wrap with some hummus and broken walnuts, and a handful of spinach, rocket or watercress.  Whatever floats your boat!
  3. Mashed potatoes or smashed new potatoes are great with a dollop of wholegrain mustard and some chopped watercress.  It adds a whole new dimension of peppery-ness that you’ll love!
  4. One thing I really love to do is have a delicious plant-based cooked breakfast with some freshly wilted spinach on the side.  It’s really fresh, and looks gorgeous on the plate with the roasted vine tomatoes, stuffed mushrooms, beetroot falafel, avocado and beans (sorry, but you’ve got to have beans!)
  5. Steam a large head of broccoli (or two) until cooked but with some bite.  Rinse under cold water to keep the fresh green colour, then keep in the fridge to add as a side to meals, or throw into stir fries, or use as a crudite in hummus or dips.  Broccoli is also delicious roasted, as it really seems to intensify the flavour.

So, there’s plenty there to keep you going.

Remember, try to gradually increase your intake to 2-3 portions a day.  To keep to it, plan in advance,  and when you’re on the go, take your greens with you.

And I’m not just talking about salad vegetables… there’s no reason why you have to eat your cooked greens hot.  Take them in your lunch box mixed in with noodles or in a quinoa salad.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Next time, I’ll be talking about exactly what a portion is, and how many portions a day you should be eating each day for optimal health.

If you found the information here useful or if you have any requests for future blog-posts, please post in the comments below.

Sally