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Let food guide you back to living your dreams!

In Health and Nutrition by LivingNowLeave a Comment


“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Hippocrates 400 BC

Feeling ‘not yourself’ takes many shapes and forms, ranging from feelings of low energy to depression and depleted health. Life challenges influence eating habits, often leaving you to make unhealthy choices.

Divorce, financial worries and family changes are but a few emotional influences that can send your food shopping list into an unhealthy spiral – it’s a compounding effect.

Healthy food choices allow you to regain control of your health, improving vitality and energy levels. With new gusto you can better manage stressful challenges of all kinds. Most importantly, you can focus on living the life you dream of living!

Maintaining emotional wellbeing can sometimes feel like a continual balancing act. When life is going smoothly, it is easy to feel centred and secure; with your health usually falling into line. Difficult events inevitably arise and cause you to feel like you’re not yourself’. Unfortunately, during times of high stress, nutrition falls by the way side. Your body becomes depleted of vital nutrients, resulting in chronic health conditions such as lowered immunity, headaches, hypertension, lowered libido and weight gain. If this is you, don’t ignore the warning bells!

Isn’t it time to change?

The key is to learn about yourself and what foods and lifestyle enhancements work for you. When you are in tune with what your body really wants and needs, you can integrate that information into all aspects of your life.

Identify what’s not working in your life, and seek resources and support to help you make positive life changes. Using diet and nutrition as cornerstones, you can build a sustainable foundation for living in balance with yourself. Improved nutritional focus will help to:

  • improve health
  • improve energy
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • support a more youthful appearance
  • improve resistance to illness

By learning to make smart choices – whether you’re cooking at home or eating out – you can enjoy flavoursome foods while you take control of your health and turn your life around!

Ensure your diet is delicious and varied – rich in vegetables and fruits, with whole grains, high-fibre foods, lean meats and poultry, eating fish at least twice a week.

Poor dietary choices in your younger years can cause a depletion of nutrients such as selenium, manganese, zinc, vitamin C, E, B6, B12, all cited as influences on vascular related diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Identify your challenges and take the first step back to ‘you’!

Re-establish good eating habits after marriage

Often during marriage you ‘pick up’ the habits of your spouse. Do you eat more pasta and bread than you used to? Have you started drinking beer? Part of moving forward is letting go of the habits you may have formed.

Focus on finances

Get your financial house in order. If you are constantly stressed about finances, you may believe you can’t afford healthy foods – often opting for the cheaper processed varieties. It’s hard to be optimistic about making lifestyle changes if you have a shaky financial future. Getting on top of your finances means paying less interest, fees and late charges and having more disposable income to invest in healthier food choices!

Get your career in gear

If your career opportunities are not what you would like, get off your duff and make some changes. Taking the easy path and not feeling fulfilled at work can contribute to feelings of low self-worth and depression. Often when feeling like this the first vice we turn to is sugar! To begin a new life, you must move ahead rather than wallow in the past. Take some courses, prepare a resume, and explore the opportunities in the marketplace. You will be surprised at what you can do!

Tie up loose ends

Getting on top of your paperwork and feeling organised feels good and frees up more spare time to dedicate to healthy living. Rewrite your will, change the beneficiaries on your insurance policies, review your retirement plan documents, and straighten your files. You can’t move ahead if you are tripping over your shoelaces.

Deal with changes to the family structure

Are you affected by empty nest syndrome – silently grieving your child moving out of home? A sense of emptiness is often felt by many parents when the house is ‘suddenly empty’ – food becoming the emotional outlet. If you are feeling lonely or depressed, speak to your health professional – herbs such as St Johns Wort can take the ‘edge’ off things.

Are you still cooking food for a family – do you need to adjust your shopping habits to cater for your new changes?

An adult child moving out of home is seen as a normal, healthy event. In many cases, empty nest syndrome is compounded by other difficult life events or significant changes happening around the same time, such as retirement or menopause. Try to see the change as refreshing – enabling you to have more time to devote to improving your health and establishing a new kind of relationship with your adult children.

Becoming a caregiver to parents

Looking after ageing parents involves major changes for all concerned – physically, emotionally, socially and financially. Learning to cope with the changes in a healthy way is important to ensure you maintain your health.

As you try to juggle the multiple demands, stresses and responsibilities of your new situation, you may find your health, marriage, job, and relationship with your children threatened. Be on the lookout for signs of stress and burnout. Symptoms may include : depression, constant fatigue, poor concentration, hostility, low self-esteem and / or physical illness. You may find yourself craving bread, chocolate and caffeine-based drinks to help get you through the day. Ultimately these have the reversed effect – often leaving you feeling tired, depleted and carrying excess weight.

Becoming a parent

Being a parent can be one of life’s most joyful and rewarding experiences, but you can find yourself falling into poor dietary habits ‘because the kids were wanting it’. Too many times parents that historically have lived healthy lives begin to purchase packaged snack foods to ‘keep the kids happy’. A better plan of action would be to make healthy choices that are suitable for the whole family. Over time and with explanation the rest of the family adapts to a healthier way of living. Setting good healthy nutritional standards teaches your child invaluable skills that will guide them on the right path for good health later in life.

Along with coping with the stress of parenthood, there may not be enough time for parents to find time to shop for fresh produce or spend time preparing food – often opting for quick pre-prepared meals.

Of course, at times parents feel angry, anxious, or just plain stressed out. These tensions are a normal, inevitable part of family life. To implement healthy changes and move forward, parents need to learn ways to cope so that they don’t fall into the trap of making poor dietary changes.

Although we love our children, we soon realise that love isn’t all that’s needed. We need patience and creativity too and, sometimes, these qualities seem to be in short supply. Caring for small children is tiring. On bad days, we can feel trapped by the constant responsibility. Caring for older children is less physically draining but more worrisome because they spend much more time outside the home.

Getting the pantry organised is one of the most important steps to take towards better health. If you don’t have time to buy fresh produce, speak to your local green grocer. Often they deliver free of charge and accept payment over the phone. Have a set menu each month. Make a shopping list before you go and stick to it.

How to combat these challenges NOW – creating a plan of action

It is helpful to step back and take a long-range point of view. Have confidence that you can turn your life around and heal your health.

  • Reserve time each week to shop for healthy food and prepare your weekly menu.
  • Keep a diary – often this helps us to keep track of where we are.
  • Take care of your health with a good diet and regular exercise.
  • Avoid fatigue. Go to bed earlier and take short naps when you can.
  • Take a break; this helps keep stress from building up. Ask for help from friends or relatives.
  • Talk to someone. Sharing your worries is a great stress reducer!
  • Look for appropriate courses and groups in your community.
  • Learn some ways of unwinding to manage the tension. Simple daily stretching exercises help relieve muscle tension. Vigorous walking, aerobics or sports are excellent ways for some people to unwind and work off tension; others find deep-breathing exercises are a fast, easy and effective way to control physical and mental tension.
  • If you’re feeling pressured, tense or drawn out at the end of a busy day, say so. Tell those around you that you will be happy to give them some attention soon but first you need a short ‘quiet time’ so that you can relax.

Remember, making the right nutritional choices today can make a difference to how you live your life in older age.

The ability to deal with your stress, restore your health, lose weight and feel great is already inside you. Your inner wisdom wants you to be healthy, vital, energetic, free of excess weight, clear of mind and be joyful of heart. Listen to your body – it knows what it needs!

The time for living the life you want is now – go for it!


Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of MassAttack, is a practising naturopath specialising in the research and development of natural treatment programs for women with hormonal imbalances, which have contributed to such symptoms as weight gain, cravings, anxiety & mood swings. Reviewed by the Australian Naturopathic Practioners Association, Narelle was the recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award. 

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