Wednesday, September 30, 2009


What a perennial topic and a huge industry. As long people put food in their mouths they will be concerned about the effect it has on them. Practically everybody in the western world who can afford to choose what they eat will think about healthy eating at some stage. There are endless diets and opinions about what’s good for you. Conflicting advice abounds and added into the mix is the question of weight which is very often given a higher priority. But how do we wade through this advice and information, How does it effect our food choices.
In reality most of us are on autopilot when it comes to what we eat, influenced by years of marketing by food and drinks companies which have penetrated us on a conscious and unconscious level and also of course by the inherited habits of our parents.  How do we decide what is good and what is bad for us in the knowledge that eating the right foods can help prevent cancer and heart disease. There are many diets but the general consensus is that the following food types are good for your health

•    Fruit and Vegetables
•    Raw foods or food that is cooked as little as possible
•    Complex carbohydrates (Wholegrain)
•    Essential Fatty Acids (Fish, Nuts, Seeds)
•    Protein

These foods are considered by most experts to be bad for you

•    Refined carbohydrate ( White Bread, White Rice, White Pasta)
•    Sugar
•    Saturated Fat

So it should be a simple as eating more from the first list and less from the second and we are well on the way to healthy eating. But of course it’s not that simple because we want to enjoy our food and feel full after we eat. Let’s face it a stick of raw celery, rye bread and a bowl of porridge can be fairly boring. How do we spice things up and make eating healthy food more interesting. Here are some tips

  • Learn how to prepare and cook the healthy food
  • If possible grow your own, a small patch is a good start or if you live in an apartment block some local   authorities provide allotments. This is surprisingly good fun and you will be more motivated to eat the healthy stuff that you grow yourself.
  • Eat foods that make you feel better. For example if you get a good energy boost from changing your foods  it is good positive reinforcement rather than living for the abstract benefit that healthy eating may improve you chances of preventing disease in the future
  • Understand what unhealthy food does to your body and also what the good food does. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you understand the costs and benefits of the food you’re eating. Don’t just go with the general wisdom, do a bit of research if necessary.
  • Promote healthy eating among your family, it’s much easier when everybody wants to try it

Enjoy your nourishment...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Taboo, Stigma and Acceptance in Mental Illness

Do you suffer from a mental illness or from time to time are you a bit depressed, obsessed or paranoid? Do you sometimes meet some of the criteria for a mental illness without crossing the line? Many experience symptoms below the clinical range but those people wouldn’t like to accept that they have taken a step closer to the unspoken mental problem. Ironically this early stage could be the best time to treat and prevent these problems
In my experience we don’t like our mental illness to be known by everybody or in some cases by anybody. Is this a good or a bad thing? On the plus side the secrecy protects one from taboo and stigma, for example you are shielded from employers who discriminate against people with mental illness or people in your social circle who are uncomfortable with these kinds of problems.
As long as society holds these views it’s understandable that sufferers don’t “come out” about their illness. However there are considerable benefits to openness regarding mental illness.

• While some may ostracise or judge you others will be understanding and helpful. Fellow sufferers may approach you about their illness and share their experience.

• Through your openness you will get more opportunity to help fellow sufferers when you have recovered

• Being open will also help with your acceptance of the illness. This is also true in reverse if you accept you illness it’s easier to be open.

However accepting the illness yourself and that you suffer from it is not the same as overcoming the fear of how others will react which is the main barrier to openness.
The stigma or lack of understanding is evident when someone tragically dies by suicide. A common reaction is “I don’t understand why he did that”. For sufferers of Depression suicidal thoughts are commonplace so they can more easily understand these tragedies.
Why does stigma exist for mental illness? Mental problems are viewed as something that can be overcome by freewill, something that you can simply snap out of. People find it hard to understand that an illness can take away your enthusiasm, your ability to reason, self motivate and importantly your ability to project a positive image of the future.
To be fair taboo and stigma has reduced a lot in recent years but we still have a long way to go before mental illness is treated like physical illness and a sufferer can feel confident about declaring their aliment to the world.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Anger in our everyday lives
By Paraic Walsh

Does anger have a place in the modern world ? Can it be used as a force for good or is it something to be avoided at all costs. We all know the damage it can do in it’s extremes and Anger in Christianity is counted as one of the seven deadly sins.
But anger and anger problems are one of the greatest taboos in today’s world. Nobody likes admitting to an anger problem so much so that anger is barely recognized as a problem requiring intervention

For some with anger problems it is like the beast within and it can quickly take control of it’s host given a set of circumstances or events. The resultant behavior ranges from shouting, damaging property, verbal abuse through to road rage, violence and homicide to name a few.
But how do we control this anger, this force of nature ? Here are some tips

  • Don’t Vent it. Some people believe there is a definite amount of the stuff inside you and by letting it out it’s goes away. In practise the more you get angry the more angry you get and it can be habit forming. If you blow up with your wife this morning you can be snappy all day at work
  • Learn to see it coming from as far off as possible. Learn to observe the signs both physically and mentally. Identify the Self angering thoughts, these are the seeds of anger. When you identify them you can stop and replant new thoughts which will settle your emotions and produce a sense of well being
  • Come up with a plan in advance if you tend to explode from time to time and leave a trail of destruction physically or emotionally ( Which is much more damaging ) of what to do when your anger gets the better of you. The idea is If you’re ready to scream or put a hole in the wall with your fist it’s good to go for a walk, leave the scene of the anger before you do or say something that you will regret afterwards. This can be pre agreed with loved ones or friends.