Tag Archive Mental health

ByAnxious Minds

How to create a Mental Health First Aid Kit

When you suffer a cut or a graze you reach for the plasters, but what do you do when you’re feeling frazzled? Here’s what Breathe has put aside to soothe its mind and nerves on those off days…

Your smartphone

The advantage of using your phone as part of your kit is that it’s the one item you’re likely to have with you wherever you are. Create a folder of meditation apps, such as Calm, Insight, Buddhify and Headspace, so if you need to take a few minutes to calm your mind or nerves you can listen to a guided meditation. There are also apps that prompt you to think about what you’re thankful for, such as What’s Good.

Why not put together a comfort playlist of favourite tunes that lift your spirits, improve your mood and energise you? It doesn’t matter how uncool your selection is, no one else need listen to it. Or compile a selection that feels soothing and restful, in case that’s what helps at a particular moment.
Most phones have a voice memo app where you can record yourself talking. Perhaps record a message to play to yourself when you’re feeling particularly anxious, upset or low.

Most people’s phones are filled with photos (which they rarely get round to printing) so put together a digital album that makes you smile. It could include photos of your family, friends and beloved pets, occasions that remind you of happy memories or scenes that uplift you.

Essential oils

Essential oils can be a speedy solution because when you inhale the scent it goes straight to your limbic system, which affects your emotion and memory. That’s why sometimes all it takes is a whiff of a smell instantly to change your mood and bring back memories. It’s well known that chamomile and lavender are calming and soothing (although it’s worth remembering that more lavender than you need can have the opposite effect), grapefruit is uplifting and peppermint refreshing. Keep a little bottle handy to inhale when required or choose a roll-on such as Tisserand’s Head Clear or De-Stress, or Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Energy or Relaxation. These blends can be rubbed on to your pulse points and they’re small enough to fit in a pocket.

Quick fix list

When you’re struggling mentally, a list of actions that you can choose from to help yourself can be useful. Write them down and keep them somewhere handy, like your desk drawer or bag. Or save them as a note on your phone so you can access them anywhere, any time.
What you write on the list is personal to you – what would make you feel better when you’re having a tough day? Maybe going for a walk, listening to your comfort playlist or phoning a friend, or more restful suggestions like taking a nap, reading a chapter of your book or meditating.
It’s worth noting down some basic ideas too – drinking a glass of water, making a cup of tea, eating something nourishing or taking a few deep breaths in and out may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget the importance of such simple actions to wellbeing.

Notebook and pen

There could be any number of reasons why you feel the need to dive into your mental health first aid kit, but whatever’s going on inside your head, taking it out of your brain and putting it down on a piece of paper can help. Whether that’s as a stream of consciousness, a to-do list of everything you’re trying to remember or reasons for and against an argument, writing it in a notebook can ease the burden.

Focusing on the good things around you can also be useful. Take a few minutes to jot down what you appreciate in your life, what you feel grateful for and what makes you smile. This enables your brain to think of the positives rather than the negatives (it can’t do both at once), giving you a break from stress. And having them written down means that on another occasion you can flick back and recall positive moments.

Whatever else you choose to add to your kit – a quotation you find inspiring, a nourishing snack, something to read or even a puzzle – remember you can add to it or swap things in and out depending on how you feel and what you need at the time. What matters is now you have something to make those stressful situations that little bit easier.

  • Words: Gabrielle Treanor. Find inspiration, e-courses and a wellbeing resource library at gabrielletreanor.com.
  • Illustration: Laura Backeberg
  • Article extract from Breathe Issue 11 – buy the digital edition here.
ByAnxious Minds

Are Narcissists Evil?

The relationship between narcissism and evil is often on the table for discussion in my field of work.  We all have our own vision of what “evil” looks like; it is often imagined as a dark, scary looking, demonic looking individual or “non-person” who has the power to take human life, torture and hurt people without a conscience.

According to Scott Peck, author of “People of the Lie,” there is no psychological term for what he considers the “disease” of “evil.”  Peck asks the question “ is evil a disease?”  His only purpose for wanting to put “evil” in a disease category is so that science would study it.  Peck talks about how “evil” is more the department of the church then psychology.  The best psychological term Peck could come up with for “evil” was “Malignant Narcissism.” 

Keep in mind the word “Narcissism” in itself includes a personality trait that we all have to some degree, and this includes children who typically pass through a narcissistic stage on their way to maturity.  People can be narcissistic without being a malignant narcissist.  Some of us need to develop more “narcissism,” which would include healthy self-love and confidence.

Malignant Narcissism is in a category of its own.  It has nothing to do with healthy self-love or confidence.  It is pure selfishness, complete lack of compassion and empathy, and deriving pleasure in seeing others suffer.  These are qualities that cause an individual with malignant narcissism to be a destructive force in the lives of those who love them.

Peck concludes that evil is a destructive force in the Universe, where the opposite force, “love,” is a creative force.  Evil spelled backwards is “live.”  It lacks “liveliness.”  There is death and destruction, if not actually, at least symbolically with the force of “evil.”

People who are close to those who are “evil”  usually experience a depletion of their life force.  It is as if the malignant narcissistic force is also a highly vampiric force and plugs into the energy of others to sustain them.  They also easily sacrifice others to maintain their own narcissistic self-image.  Peck gives several examples in “People of the Lie” of clients who were either “Evil” or had “evil” parents or partners, or were bordering becoming evil as a way to avoid their own pain.  It is a very enlightening book and a recommended read.

Evil is a strong term and many people are uncomfortable using it as a way of referring to a loved one.  It can be very difficult to see someone close to us as being evil.  It is difficult to realise we have been living with evil or have had our life force hijacked by it.  We often have images of a red horned devil or white eyed monster who want to kill us.

The majority of “evil” people don’t literally kill the physical body.  They work to kill the soul, the essence of a person.  Many of my clients who have been in relationships with narcissists describe themselves as a shell of the person they used to be.  They have lost their energy, their soul, their creativity and passion for life.  They even lose their will to live.  It is not uncommon that people who commit suicide are victims of malignant narcissists.  Not only do they lose their will to live, but there just isn’t enough knowledge in the Psychology profession of the depth of damage that is done by someone who has malignant narcissism.  Psychology learns the definition of narcissistic personality disorder and even how to diagnose it in others, but they don’t learn the connection between narcissistic personality disorder and evil.

There is a psychological/spiritual connection that is not often studied or understood.  We often think that the person who is “suffering” a disorder is the one who is “suffering.”  People with NPD don’t themselves suffer.  They inflict suffering upon others and often gain a great deal of pleasure doing so.  Now this is evil.

Your garden variety narcissist may be a little full of himself.  Have a big ego, be on the selfish side and overly concerned with the image presented to others.  He may do damage through his ignorance and through being oblivious, but he doesn’t gain any pleasure from inflicting pain on others.  These kinds of people can do damage however, because there can still be a lack of empathy and ability to walk a mile in another’s shoes.  Would I define a milder form of narcissism as evil?  Well it depends.

One needs to evaluate evil in terms of the qualities of destructiveness, lack of ability to feel and give authentic love, and the damage a person does to the psyche of another.

Peck tells us that the primary quality behind evil is deception.  Evil people present a false front to the world and hide behind the image they present.  Often the image is of a hardworking, good looking, well dressed, clean, successful and even caring individual.  We don’t often glimpse behind the façade to see the vacancy of the soul within the person.  It is all smoke and mirrors, lies and false fronts.  As I said earlier, a malignant narcissist will easily sacrifice a “loved one” in order to preserve the false front they are so vested in holding up.  If that “front” is threatened to be exposed, they will throw the threat under a bus and walk away without conscience.

Peck tells us, from his research, that evil can be hard to spot, even by the person who is being affected by it.  When evil walks around looking “normal” we never see it for what it is.  If evil was easy to spot in others, it would have no power in the world.  It is through the deception that evil has power.

If evil itself has an intention, what would it be?  I imagine it would be to get loving hearts to hate, to be angry, to be confused, and to get sidetracked from any kind of positive mission they may have previously been aligned with.

In my experience with narcissistic abuse, most people who are forced to go “no contact” or “limited contact” with a narcissist are very angry, hateful, confused and lost.  Not only have they lost most of their life force energy, they have separated from their own “goodness.” This is done when the victim of evil becomes lost in darkness as a result of the vampirism and deception.  I help my clients to come to terms with their feelings, because suppressing our “dark emotions” prevents us from healing.  We have to find healthy ways to express our pain, our rage, our anger and feelings of injustice and eventually get back to the “love.”

When we love someone who is “evil” we often put our hearts in the hands of someone who will not only break them, but continue to trample on them over and over again.  The more “evil” can torture a once loving heart, the less its ability to love.  Mission accomplished.

In some ways, I suppose my mission in life is to be a warrior for the heart, to help people remember their own ability to love, beginning with loving the Self.  If we can start with offering ourselves kindness, compassion, care and support, we can rebuild our life force and our hearts.  We don’t want to let evil “win” by separating us from our own ability to love and be kind to others.

As a counsellor for narcissistic abuse victims, I have seen some pretty angry and hostile victims who, because they are hurting, feel justified in hurting others.  They often avoid responsibility and because they see themselves as “victims” they feel justified in their careless behaviour.

We have to ask ourselves, at what point does a victim of evil begin to cross the line to becoming evil themselves?  At what point do victims of malignant narcissism become narcissistic themselves?  It is entirely possible.  Children of narcissists will usually become either Co-dependent or narcissistic.  One child may model their parent’s narcissism where another sibling will oppose it and Co-dependently try to extract love where there is none.  The sibling who becomes narcissistic, gives up on ever getting love and settles for power instead.

If you were to evaluate the war of good versus evil happening on our planet, wouldn’t it make sense that if evil people were successful at creating more evil people, evil would grow in the world and the mission of evil would gain power?

What if evil was actually a force that possessed people who were vulnerable in some way?  What if evil were a force that separated people from their own goodness?

If we truly wanted to heal, and bring more love to the world, we have to start by not only bringing more love to ourselves, but learn how to approach the abuse we have suffered with love rather than fear.

It is fear that takes root in the hearts and minds of man, that gives the evil force an “in.”  Fear of annihilation may cause one to try and annihilate others.  Fear of not being “good enough” may cause a person to try and make others feel inferior.  Fear of being hurt may cause a person to hurt others.  Fear of being exposed may cause one to paint others in a bad light.  Fear of losing control over one’s environment may cause him/her to manipulate and control others.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear!  So when you have two choices, love or fear, make the conscious choice to align with love rather than fear.  It is a lot of work to bring love to a dark situation.

Peck tells us that the antidote for evil is not hatred, or war, but love.  We need to learn to love thy enemy.  That doesn’t mean to live with or have that person in our lives, but to cut the psychic cords of attachment to the evil doer by loving oneself enough to break away, and find a way to love the other, from a distance.  Instead of wishing for the demise of our enemy, we could pray for their healing; that they see the light.  We don’t have to be attached to what actually happens with this person.  We are not praying for their healing so that we can have a great partner, or great parents.  We pray as a way of releasing ourselves from our own hatred and anger towards that person.  When we hold on to hatred and anger towards another person, it becomes a psychic cord, keeping us tied to that person.

Loving in the face of the worse cruelty and carelessness at the hands of our enemy is to set us free, not the enemy.  Our enemies must suffer the karmic consequences of their own behaviour.  What we put out into the world will come back to us tenfold.  This is why we don’t want to put more hatred into the world.  It doesn’t mean that initially we won’t feel hatred.  We very well may, and this is okay.  It is not the feeling itself that is the problem.  It is the holding on of the feeling that causes long term issues.  Suppressing our feelings is even worse because we end up acting out subconsciously that which we are harbouring within.  We must be willing to allow those painful emotions to come to the surface, deal with them, and release them.  The ultimate goal is to return to love.

ByAnxious Minds

Uninvited Guest

“Uninvited Guest” is a short poem by Vicky from Family Friend Poems that captures the depths of depression and the helplessness one may feel when consumed by mental illness. Yet, through the darkness, the writer holds onto a glimmer of hope at the end of the piece. The author explains that “anyone who has suffered from depression will understand… I urge you to fight. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel”.

Uninvited Guest
Feel broken down, my body aches
My heart it bleeds from past mistakes
Can’t stop the tears, they fall like rain
The words are spinning ’round my brain
So scared and feeling so alone
The coldness fills my every bone
No food, no sleep, can’t think at all
Each way I turn, another wall
This darkness haunts my very soul
My world seems dead I’ve lost control
The only weapon is my pen
Depression has moved in again

ByAnxious Minds

How do you know that you have received a Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation?

As I have discussed in previous blogs on this website, the practice of Psychiatry is challenging. Unlike other medical specialties there are a paucity of laboratory testing or radiologic imaging that will reveal the true nature of the problems being presented at the time of our appointment.

Instead of relying on objective data I must process a wealth of subjective information; that is, the words that you use in describing your current emotional state. I view this challenge much like a good detective would tackle a mystery. To help you better understand the complexities of the evaluation I will try to outline the key components.

Firstly, I certainly recognise that a new patient coming into my office will be uneasy and not sure of what to expect. So it is important to reassure the individual that he evaluation process is straightforward and geared to better understanding what brings the individual to my office.

This brings us to what I call the “Chief Complaint”, best expressed by asking “How can I help you?” Quite commonly people present with concerns about being depressed or suffering from anxiety. The problem with the chief complaint is that what people mean by words like depression or anxiety differ tremendously among individuals. So the chief complaint must be clarified with more specific descriptions of what the person means by the words they are using. Often a perceived problem with anxiety represents a symptom of a depressive disorder. I commonly hear individuals come in concerned about “mood swings” with a fear that they could have bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness). However, after clarifying their concerns by getting a more comprehensive description, I often discover that what they are describing I a swing between feeling fine and feeling depressed, a symptom complex that can be part of a core depressive disorder.

Once the chief complaint is determined, the next step is to obtain a “History of Present Illness”. Specifically, this entails finding out how long the difficulties have been present, what does the development of emotional symptoms look like and what was the context in which the difficulties presented themselves. Since a major goal of assessment is to discover if there are underlying biological (that is, brain related) factors causing symptoms,  it is just as important to determine if there are situational factors present during symptom development. Then the challenge is to try to better understand whether there are psychological factors (coping style, attitude and belief systems) influencing or even responsible for producing the current problems bringing the person to my office.

Current problems and symptoms must be understood in the context of any “Past Psychiatric History”. Have these problems and/or symptoms been present in the past? If so, has there been a pattern of episodes? Has there been previous psychiatric treatment and what was the outcome of such treatment? It is always helpful to know if an individual had previous depressive episodes and responded to a particular antidepressant. If there is a history of prior courses of psychotherapy, what type of therapy was it and what was the outcome?

The presence of “Substance Abuse” (another section of the comprehensive evaluation) must be discovered because of the complicating role it may play in the presentation of the individual’s symptoms and concerns. The drugs, amount used and duration of use must be clarified. When substance abuse has been extensive and long term, all bets are off in determining a non-substance abuse primary psychiatric disorder. It is only after months of a brain free of the substance(s) abused can one adequately determine the presence or absence of a core mood or anxiety disorder.

A most important section of this initial assessment consists of the “Family Psychiatric History”. Knowing what the individual’s genetic pedigree is can be very telling. If mood and/or anxiety disorders are prevalent in nuclear and extended family members the possibility of an underlying biological problem must be considered when treatment planning occurs. This does not mean that biological dysfunction is the sole problem. It is quite common to discover that there has been a stress-diathesis interaction; that is, the external situational stressors are interacting with an underlying biological predisposition.

A “Childhood History” is another critical component. To discover that there is a past history of traumatic life experiences raises questions about both the nature of the present problem and aspects of treatment planning. Bullying has unfortunately become recognised as a major factor in the development of future suffering and trauma syndromes. Determining if there was any birth injury, delay in developmental milestones or school related anxiety and avoidance or academic learning difficulties is part of this section. Although a very sensitive area of investigation, learning about a history of abuse, whether it be emotional, physical or sexual, represents important albeit painful information to gather.

The person’s “Past Medical History” cannot be ignored. This section includes the presence or absence of medical system problems (involving heart/vascular, lungs, kidney. Liver, thyroid, gastrointestinal, other hormonal, and brain) that may be impacting on the individual’s current complaints. An accurate and detailed list of current medications and dosages taken is essential for treatment planning due to the varied effects of medication on mental state as well as the risk of drug to drug interactions when psychiatric medications need to be prescribed. Obtaining a history of medication-related or other allergies, surgeries, head injuries or concussions rounds out this section.

The “Psychosocial History” explores childhood specifics, religious background, educational level, job history, marital status and special interests or hobbies. It helps to fill in the context of the present illness.

The “Mental Status Examination” is the psychiatrist’s equivalent of the internist’s physical examination. This examination evaluates the behaviour and demeanour of the individual. Emotional experience and expression is assessed. Thinking content and process along with speech characteristics are components as well. A formal assessment of memory, attention/concentration, abstract language use, fund of knowledge and perceptual/sensory disturbances are an integral part of mental status.

Because severe mental disorders can lead to self or other destructive thoughts and urges, an evaluation of dangerousness risks is an important aspect of a comprehensive evaluation.

After all this information is obtained, a preliminary psychiatric assessment is provided. This diagnostic section utilises the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition V to aid in evidence-based diagnostic consistency.

The initial plan of treatment may include medication, lifestyle recommendations and psychotherapy. It is important to recognise that both diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations need to be flexible because as the therapeutic relationship unfolds additional information becomes available which may alter treatment planning.

ByAnxious Minds

Mind Vs. Brain

Let’s try a little experiment. Using your right index finger, point to your brain. Now using the same finger, point to your mind. Not so easy. We don’t necessarily think of our brain and mind as being exactly the same thing. One is not as easy to pinpoint, and this has led to two distinct ways we have of talking about mental activity: mind talk and brain talk.

To those of us without a degree in neurobiology, it seems completely natural to refer to the mind. We talk about feeling this way and thinking of that, of remembering one thing and dreaming of another. Those verbs are examples of mind talk. Using mind talk, we would say, “I recognised my first-grade teacher in the crowd because she was wearing the necklace with the beetle scarab, which was so unusual I still remembered it after all these years.”

We would not say, “A barrage of photons landed on my retina, exciting the optic nerve so that it carried an electrical signal to my lateral geniculate body and thence to my primary visual cortex, from which signals raced to my striate cortex to determine the image’s colour and orientation, and to my prefrontal cortex and inferotemporal cortex for object recognition and memory retrieval—causing me to recognise Mrs. McKelvey.”

That’s brain talk. That there is an interplay between mind and brain may seem unremarkable. The mind, after all, is generally regarded as synonymous with our thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs, and as the source of our behaviours. It’s not made of material, but we think of it as quite powerful, or even as who we are.

The mind, after all, is generally regarded as synonymous with our thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs, and as the source of our behaviors. It’s not made of material, but we think of it as quite powerful, or even as who we are.

The brain, the three-pound slab of tofu-textured tissue inside our skull, is recognised (by scientists, at least) as the physical source of all that we call mind. If you are having a thought or experiencing an emotion, it’s because your brain has done something—specifically, electrical signals crackled along a whole bunch of neurons and those neurons handed off droplets of neurochemicals, like runners handing off a baton in a relay race.

Neuroscientists don’t object to mind talk for casual conversation. But most insist that we not invoke the mind as if it is real, or distinct from the brain. They reject the notion that the mind has an existence independent of the brain (often called Cartesian dualism, after René Descartes of “I think, therefore I am” fame). Obviously, avoiding mind talk would be a problem for a column about the science of the mind in a magazine called Mindful.

I fell afoul of the no-mind rule last year during a talk I gave in Salt Lake City on neuroplasticity—the ability of the adult brain to change its structure and function in response to outside stimuli as well as internal activity. I was talking about mind changing brain, a possibility that intrigues scientists who have investigated the power and effects of mental training, including mindfulness. I used examples such as people with obsessive-compulsive disorder practicing mindfulness to approach their thoughts differently, with the result that the brain region whose overactivity caused their disorder quieted down. Ta da: mind changing brain.

Not so fast, said one audience member. Why talk about something so imprecise, even spooky, as mind? Why can’t the explanation for the OCD patients be that one form of brain activity (that taking place during mindfulness) affected another (the OCD-causing activity)? Why do we need mind talk?

Well, we need mind talk because although most neuroscientists reject the idea of a mind different from brain, most civilians embrace the distinction. This competing view of things gets expressed in the real world in stark and startling ways. Take, for example, how the mind-brain dichotomy can play out in the criminal justice system. Neuroscience holds that the brain is the organ of the mind. If something goes wrong with behaviour, then it’s because something has gone wrong with the brain (in the same way that if something has gone wrong with, say, insulin secretion, it’s because something has gone wrong with the pancreas). We can probably all agree that criminal assault and downloading child pornography both count as something “going wrong” with behaviour. Yet in these and other cases, judges presented with evidence that the behaviour had a biological basis have meted out more lenient sentences than in cases where no such evidence was presented.

To which neuroscientists reply, are you out of your mind? Why are you relying on such a distinction? What else is behaviour but the result of brain biology? Yet the fact that criminals are treated more harshly if their mind (motives, anger, antisocial feelings…) made them do it than if their brain (aberrant activity patterns, pathological circuitry…) did shows just how deeply average folks believe that mind and brain are distinct.

This dualism gets at a profound philosophical issue that has divided scholars for decades: what is the most productive and helpful level of explanation for mental activity? When do we go too far in reducing mental matters to physically observable activity? Is it more illuminating, for instance, to explain why Teresa loves Dave by invoking their personalities and histories and tastes, or their brain neurons? Consider trying to explain confirmation bias, in which people remember examples that support their point of view—“You never take out the garbage!”—and forget counterexamples. Is it more illuminating to explain it as the result of the human need to shore up our beliefs or by invoking synapses and neurochemicals?

One case for mind talk is that we have access to our mind. We can recognise and describe what we know, remember, and think. We do not have access to our brain: we cannot tell which regions (my hippocampus? my anterior cingulate?) are active during particular activities.

One case for mind talk is that we have access to our mind. We can recognise and describe what we know, remember, and think.

But many neuroscientists say mind talk is just hand waving. As a result, you can hardly call yourself a psychologist or neuroscientist (cognitive, affective, social, or otherwise) unless your research uses brain imaging. In a 2012 study, researchers performed fMRI scans on volunteers playing a made-up game in which they had to decide how much money (given to them by the scientists) they wanted to share with others—a test of their altruism. (fMRI pinpoints areas of the brain that are more active, or less, than the baseline during a particular mental function.) The researchers found that a region involved in perspective taking—allowing us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes—is more active in the most altruistic individuals.

I don’t know about you, but learning that people who are good at understanding things from someone else’s perspective tend to be more altruistic doesn’t tell me much about altruism that I didn’t already suspect. I mean, did anyone think altruistic people would turn out to be bad at perspective taking?

The mind–brain debate is not about to go away anytime soon, so in this column I will be keeping an eye on the dialogue between brain talkers and mind talkers and to keep exploring what the latest science has to teach us about our minds and our brains. For example, can brain biology alone “define, predict, or explain the emergence of mental phenomena,” as Alan Wallace, a pioneer in the scientific study of the effects of meditation on cognition, behaviour, and physiology, has asked? What kind of scientists are willing to talk about mind, and to what extent? What qualifies as “proof” that a practice like mindfulness is improving our lives? Are scientists finding ways to make mind talk like “thought” and “emotion” more rigorous, so we don’t have to be embarrassed around them when we talk that way? And above all, how can what scientists are learning about both mind and brain help us make our way a little better in a challenging world with the tools we have available, whatever names we choose to call them?

This article appeared in the April 2013  issue of Mindful magazine.
ByAnxious Minds

Beginners Guide To Healthy Nutritional Eating

In today’s fast paced world where we have no time to the little things, often they get put aside so as to get seemingly the more important things done.

Eating for example! We miss meals eat wrong food groups grab meals on the run, all for the sake of saving time.

Along with the failure to exercise, many forget the problems this life style can have on our health and wellness.

We get run down a little over weight and sometimes worse.

This is just a reminder for the need for many to return too and learn the necessity of better eating Habits.

If you’re currently not eating a healthy diet, it can be difficult to start such a plan. However, healthy eating along with some exercise is very important for maintaining a good bodily function and goes a long way towards living a disease-free life. If you struggle with healthy eating, then you know that breaking unhealthy habits can be the most difficult part of the process. Therefore, if you truly want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is important to follow tips in order to start eating a more healthy diet.

A great first step when you want to start eating your way to a healthy life style is to rid your home of all temptations that will distract you from following better eating habits. Ideally it would be a wise course to keep junk foods and beverages out of your house so as not be tempted to snack during the day. If you’re worried about getting hungry, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, or whole-wheat crackers on hand. If you find that you just cannot bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping something tiny on hand, peppermints or barley sugar. Eating a few, (emphasis on few) of these won’t ruin your diet but also will give you that little sugary fix you rave.

Another great step to healthy eating, when you’re first starting the process, is to take a few moments to learn what foods are the healthiest for you and how they work within the body. To start eating healthily we must begin by thinking healthily. Most people understand that fruits, vegetables, and low-fat meats and dairy products are good for you, but few people understand why. The key is learning about nutrients. When you understand how specific nutrients work and why you need them, it becomes more reasonable for you to make healthier choices for your body. Knowledge really is power!

Preparation is a major key in commencing a new healthy diet. You must take into consideration your schedule for meals. If you often eat in a rushed hurry at odd times of day, you probably more inclined to grab a rushed meal which will probably do more harm than good. So plan ahead! Instead of grabbing a fast food lunch on the go, take a bagged lunch to work, complete with a healthy wrap and some fresh fruit and vegetables. Remember not to forget your evening meal, a simple plan to have a meal ready before you get home would be perfect, but in our fast paced life style, sometimes this just can’t be done. One way to solve this problem is to plan out your evening meals for the week, on your days off. Perhaps just before you do your weekly shopping. Another warning: when going to the shops, do not venture their hungry because if you’re anything like me, one or two chocolate bars won’t hurt! That becomes the first break in your healthy eating.

Initially many will find it very difficult to make those necessary changes to healthier eating. Along with the difficulty of change, you may not feel well for a short period of time. Usually this is normal as your body is adjusting to your new and improved life style and is cleansing itself from the unhealthy toxins built up from poor eating habits. However if this feeling continues or you are worried a visit to your doctor would be the correct thing to do.

Start with baby steps. Even if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water, you are really improving your calorie intake. If you eat fast food every day for lunch, try replacing that half of the time with better quality foods. When you start by taking small steps you aren’t cutting out all of the foods you love all at once. By taking your time to learn about your eating habits and slowly replacing them with better meals, by taking the time to learn and understand why you should be doing that and making the necessary changes in an orderly fashion, you will feel much better within yourself physically, mentally and emotionally and well on the road to becoming as healthy as you can be