Can you eat your skin healthy?…Aoife Ryan investigates….

Over the past few years I’ve had a lot of trouble with my skin. When I was in my teens I never worried about it, but since I hit 18/19 it feels like it’s been one thing after another. Between psoriasis, eczema, sun allergies, and acne, my skin has been on my mind quite often over the past 5 or so years. I’ve tried all sorts of medication, treatments and products for each. This year I decided it was time to look into diet..although I would have thought I had a quite balanced diet, I wanted to have a look at what foods are good for keeping skin healthy.

heres what I found:

Dark berries – deliciously full of antioxidants that may help to clear up blemishes. Strawberries are particularly good for delaying skins ageing because they are chockablock with vitamin C (more per serving than an orange). Vitamin C aids collagen production as well as fighting ‘free radicals’, which damage cells and break down collagen, leading to fine lines forming.

Nuts – Acne has been often linked with a deficiency in minerals such as zinc and selenium, which most nuts are bursting with. Along with Vitamin E, copper, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron..which are all needed for skin health and function. Studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage, and age spots. Nuts are such a handy snack too, win-win!

Tomatoes – Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which helps to keep skin firm and taut. They also contain lycopene: the red pigment which not only gives them their bring red colour, but also stimulates skin circulation.

H2O – Water cleanses your body, helping to eliminate toxins. Water keeps skin hydrates, making it appear more plump and less wrinkled. Keeping hydrated is also very important for keeping stress levels low (a common contributor to breakouts). Everywhere I’ve looked has said the same thing…drink up!

Eggs – Full of nutrients and antioxidants. The antioxidants found in eggs help to preserve skin’s elasticity and prevent damage to skin cells. Choline is the name of a B vitamin found in eggs which helps to make up fatty portions of cell membranes and is essential for skin-cell functioning. Choline also helps your body to maintain proper levels of other B vitamins. This is so important because your skin needs B vitamins to produce energy and manufacture collagen and elastin (those rubbery proteins that keep skin looking and feeling firm and smooth).

Oily fish – The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish are great because they encourage your body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help with skin conditions such as eczema and psorasis. These essential fatty acids also act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.

Mindful Eating

Aoife Ryan gives some hints on Mindful Eating

Most discussions on healthy eating focus on what we should and shouldn’t be eating. Mindful eating focuses on how we eat, and it has proved to be just as important. The practice of mindful eating reconnects us with eating and enjoying our food. The concept was developed to counteract unhealthy eating patterns caused by emotional cues (emotional eating).
The main goal with mindful eating is to recognize when you are hungry and eat for that reason. It focuses on how we understand and think about what we are eating and how it makes us feel/ affects our bodies. The main reason we eat should be to fuel and nourish our bodies, but it is important to enjoy what we are eating too. Mindful eating helps us to be more aware of our eating patterns and to identify emotional triggers. Knowing which emotions lead us to comfort eat makes it much easier to avoid using them as triggers for comfort eating.

Here are some tips on how to introduce mindful eating to your mealtimes:

Slow Down
Taking your time and savoring your food will help make sure you enjoy it more and eat less. Try chewing your food for longer; this will give you more time to realize when you’re full and also aid in the digestion of your food. You’ll find yourself noticing the taste of your food much too. Sipping on water during a meal will help you to slow down and encourage breaks.

Eliminate Distractions
Turn off the television and leave your phone in the other room. Concentrate on your food. Doing two things at once inhibits our awareness. Being aware of what you are eating, and how much of it, will help you to recognize when you’ve had enough.

Choose a Healthy Snack
If you feel hungry throughout the day, try to avoid snacking on high sugar energy foods. Choose a piece of fruit instead of a chocolate bar – this will make you feel better and keep you full for longer.

Why are you Eating?
In mindful eating, you are encouraged to recognize if you are really hungry or if you feel like eating as an emotional response. Before you eat, make sure you are experiencing hunger sensations. If you aren’t sure then have a glass of water and wait a while – if you still aren’t experiencing any physical hunger then you most likely feel like eating because of a negative emotion such as boredom or stress. But if you decide that you are feeling hungry then go on and eat. Think about what you would like to eat and how it will make you feel.

Chocoholics Anonymous…

Aoife Ryan investigates…is there such a thing?

Hi I’m Aoife and I’m a chocoholic.

It’s something we’ve all heard of, but it’s not taken all that seriously. So, can you actually be addicted to chocolate? With Easter eggs everywhere this month, it’s hard to avoid the stuff… but for some people it’s a year-round struggle.

There are three components that need to be seen for something to be classified as an addiction:
Intense cravings
Loss of control
Continued use despite negative consequences

Looking at it lightly, all three can be associated with chocolate.

Chocolate is the most craved food. It’s not unheard of for people to pop out to the supermarket late at night for their chocolate fix. We mostly crave food because of influencing external factors and our emotional state rather than because of psychical hunger. Before a chocolate craving, most likely you will have been feeling some sort of negative emotion, like boredom, anxiety, or just feeling a bit down. When we eat chocolate, serotonin is released in the brain making us feel instantly happier. Many people form a habit of reaching for the chocolate whenever they are under any emotional stress; this habit is what makes the cravings so strong – we feel we need it.

Loss of control is less common with chocolate lovers, but it does happen. Chocolate has a good mix of sugar and fat in it, which means we can eat more of it without feeling sick. So it’s up to us to decide when enough is enough, and quite often, especially around the holidays, people go overboard. Some people can keep a box of chocolates in the cupboard for weeks, maybe taking one every now and then with their cup of tea, or having it to take out when people are visiting. A lot of others would have that box gone in a matter of days. Finding a balance is very important – everything in moderation. Trying to stop over-indulging so often could help reduce cravings and make you feel better overall.

Continuing to eat chocolate despite negative consequences is definitely true in self-proclaimed chocoholics. There might be plenty of healthy options but some people will choose chocolate over them despite knowing that that it’s not as good for them. Chocolate has high levels of saturated fat and sugar. Too much saturated fat in the diet raises blood cholesterol, putting you at risk of heart disease and stroke. The high sugar content in chocolate has no nutritional value and often leads to weight gain, and in some cases type 2 diabetes. If chocolate is something you can’t give the boot, then it’s important to remember to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet while keeping the amount of chocolate you do eat low.

So, chocoholism does seem to exist in today’s society. Although it’s not an addiction that will affect someone’s life in the way drug or alcohol addiction would, it is still definitely real. An emotional dependence is developed with chocolate for some people, they feel they need it to improve their mood and make them feel better. Unfortunately, this feeling is often only temporary, and then a feeling of guilt sets in – and a cycle of negative emotions begins. Breaking this cycle can be a challenge, but it’s something that gets easier every day. By making some lifestyle changes and choosing other snacks over chocolate some days, the cravings will feel less strong and you can start enjoying chocolate in a healthier way.

H.A.L.T – tips to help manage anxiety

 Aoife Ryan looks at ways to help reduce anxiety with some simple tips…

Have you ever lashed out at someone close to you for no apparent reason? Maybe on a day that you skipped lunch, or had been annoyed by something separate earlier that day? Or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Or sometimes just feeling down on yourself or a little distant can lead you to push people further away. This is normal… everybody lets their everyday stresses overcome how they act from time to time, and unfortunately it’s the ones we love most who get the brunt of it for the most part.

A good tip to remember if you’re ever feeling wound up or stressed is to H-A-L-T (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).

Hunger is something that can be felt both physically and emotionally. Knowing when to eat seems simple, but we need to remember not just to eat but to eat well. Having a balanced diet is very important because it keeps our bodies and our minds working at their best. We need to fuel ourselves every 3-4 hours. Eating regularly can keep us feeling calm and allow us to see situations how they really are without having our judgments clouded by hunger. So, next time you feel yourself ready to lash out – remove yourself from the situation, if you feel hungry go have a meal or healthy snack and water – the chances are you’ll feel much more relaxed afterwards.

Anger is a very healthy emotion, but it is important to understand exactly what/who has made you angry. If you don’t allow yourself to process the reasoning behind this feeling it is very likely you will deal with it in a way you might regret. So before the anger consumes you, chat to a family member or a friend who isn’t involved about your feelings. Getting the feelings off your chest might be enough to make you feel better and to think more clearly. Then you can decide whether to address the situation calmly and try to fix whatever is making you feel this way. If it is something can can’t be fixed, using techniques such as meditation, creative projects, exercise etc. are often very good ways of relieving anger.

Loneliness isn’t a nice feeling. Some people choose to be alone; usually it’s their way of dealing with other emotions. Withdrawal and self-isolation are very common coping mechanisms for many different negative feelings and can be quite harmful to your mental health. If you realise that you are feeling worse about a situation than you may have before, ask yourself have you reached out to anyone lately, are you feeling lonely? Having a support system is very important when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or just that everything has become too much. Even going out for a walk and interacting with people on a basic level can be really helpful in dealing with these feelings.

Tiredness often makes people more cranky and emotional. Missing out on some of our much needed shut-eye can compromise our ability to think clearly, remember details, or work to our full potential during the day. This can be quite frustrating and add extra stress onto whatever we are already dealing with or doing. Tiredness can also hinder our abilities to cope with emotions and in turn, we might not see a situation for what it really is. If you feel overwhelmed by a situation that might not have been so stressful another day ask yourself, are you tired? Did you get enough sleep the night before? Has your day been more busy than usual? Going for a walk and getting some fresh air, or having a light healthy snack can be helpful in boosting your energy levels.

So, before things escalate, try to take a few deep breaths, HALT and ask yourself are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Satisfying these basic things can help you to keep calm in times of stress/anxiety and help you to work out your feelings in a healthier way.

 

Detox Your Mind!

Aoife Ryan gives us hints into detox our minds…

 

During January, there has been a lot of talk about how to detox your body after the festive season. While cleansing and restoring your body is important, the new year is also a really good time to try and focus on detoxing your mind. A mind detox will help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, helping you to organise yourself better and be a happier you!

Here are some tips to help with the process:

  • Get Organised

Take a full day or two to yourself and clear your house of any unwanted clutter or mess. When you’re living in an unorganised environment it’s very hard to have a clear mind. Focus especially on your bedroom – clear out your wardrobe, throw away or donate anything you don’t wear or use anymore. Sometimes re-arranging the furniture in your room can give you the feeling of a fresh start, and help you to feel more on top of things.

Make lists of tasks you need to carry out/have been putting off. Prioritise – do what you feel is most important firsts and allocate time for the rest…writing down a date to have something done by can help make sure you don’t forget about it.

  • Switch Off

We are overloaded everyday with a constant stream of noise and information through multiple sources of media. Stepping away from technology for a few hours every day can be a huge relief. Try going out for a walk in the park and leaving your phone and music at home. Having no other distractions will allow you to really take in and enjoy your environment, alone with your thoughts. Taking time to be mindful out in the fresh air can help you understand and organise what’s going on inside your head. This also gives peaceful time to work through and find solutions to things that may have been wearing you out emotionally.

  • Diet

Try to reduce your consumption of sweet treats and processed/convenience foods. There is often a feeling of guilt follows indulging in comfort foods. Ease sweet cravings with fruit or a distraction like a hot bath or a walk.

Cut down on the amount of caffeine you drink. When living a busy lifestyle it is very common people get into the habit of drinking multiple cups of tea/coffee a day. The buzz these provide make you feel more able to carry on with energy, but in reality they cause you to crash sooner and can set your mind racing and make it harder to focus in the long run. Reducing alcohol consumption has also been seen as a beneficial way of keeping a clear head.

Keep hydrated throughout the day to help ease hunger distractions and cravings and the keep your head organised. Don’t skip meals – always factor in time to your day to have a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will stop your energy levels from dipping and keep you on track throughout your day.

  • Wake Up To Positive Thoughts

When you wake up in the morning, take 10-15 minutes before you get out of bed and fill yourself with gentle thoughts. Think about nice things you will be doing with your day, what friends you will see etc. Try to avoid waking up thinking about the list of things you need to get done that day. Waking up in a happy mind frame often lightens the tone for the rest of the day, eliminating a lot of unnecessary anxieties.

  • Relax and Get Your 8h+

At the end of your day take some time to unwind – watch a nice movie, listen to some calm music, read a book, or light some candles and soak in a hot bath. Having some time to yourself before bed where you can escape from anything that may be on your mind can be very soothing and help you to have a better nights sleep. When your head is racing all day with schedules, deadlines or anxieties of any kind, it is very hard to go to bed at night and switch them off. It is very common that these plays on your mind will make it hard for you to nod off at night and may interrupt your sleeping pattern throughout the night. A bad nights sleep will leave you tired the next day, making you less able to cope with stresses of the day as well, and here a vicious cycle starts.

By allowing yourself some much needed “me time” and taking time to unwind you will nip this cycle in the bud.