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Eat Your Stress Goodbye - Stress Reducing Diet

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution. When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress. Foods that Fight Stress If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to ght stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups. Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix. Some of the best stress-ghting foods include: Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat. Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benets including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress. Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Take one cup only though, as too much has the opposite effect! Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you're stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet - and the best chocolate for you is raw chocolate! Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more avonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices. Look up raw chocolate recipes too, so easy to make it yourself! Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals. Choose gluten-free oats and you’ll be off to an amazing start! If you would like my amazing recipe for overnight oats, message me here: Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant avor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake. Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic! Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to ght off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall. Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as Kombucha can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The benecial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as kombucha actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve. Putting Together Your Diet Plan Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy􏰂 but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress.􏰃 Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you􏰄re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears􏰃. When you􏰄re feeling stressed􏰂 you may be tempted to reach for classic 􏰅comfort foods􏰄 - usually foods which are laden with sugar􏰂 very starchy􏰂 or greasy.􏰃 However,􏰂 although these foods can make you feel momentarily better􏰂 they will actually make you feel worse in the long run. 􏰃
Having stress􏰇busting snacks such as fresh berries,􏰂 dark chocolate,􏰂 dairy-free yogurt,􏰂 walnuts or pistachios􏰂 or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it, can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress􏰃. When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run􏰂 it􏰄s important to make sure that for the most part􏰂 you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced. 􏰃
In order to stay on track􏰂 it􏰄s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress􏰇busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you􏰄re feeling like stress􏰇eating.􏰃 Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall,􏰂 but can improve your mental health and stress levels􏰂 too􏰃. A good example of a healthy􏰂 stress􏰇busting menu would be:􏰋 Breakfast􏰋 - Gluten-free oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries Mid􏰇morning snack􏰋 - Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts Lunch􏰋 - A whole􏰇grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens
Afternoon snack􏰋 - Dark chocolate
Dinner􏰋 - tofu or soya protein with vegetables
Before bed􏰋 - Chamomile tea Of course􏰂 you don􏰄t need to stick to this menu, but it gives you a good idea.􏰌 Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts,􏰂 chocolate,􏰂 yogurt, or avocado􏰌. As the saying goes,􏰂 you are what you eat,􏰆 so make sure that first and foremost􏰂 you􏰄're filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.􏰃 If you would like to more help to help you fight stress, click here to book a consultation with NaturAlly Fed today! Have a great stress-free day! Lots of love, NaturAlly Fed x

Autumn Equinox - What do you need to know?

The summer is officially over - sigh - and the Autumn Equinox is here to mark the official start of the autumn and the winter months. The equinox is one out of two days a year when the day and night are completely equal in length and it is an important time for us to think about the changes that this events bring to us and around us. With every change of season, we should be reflecting about the last couple of months and finish things we might have left up in the air. We should also the thinking of the few months ahead and setting up our resolutions. Making a Vision Board might be an amazing opportunity to help you focus on what you want to achieve in the months to come - look online for inspiration about how to make one, but I cannot recommend these enough as they worked for me amazingly!! With the Autumn Equinox we also have one more point to address: it is a time to focus on "letting go" - leaving the past behind, stop hanging on to unrealistic hopes, forgive those who have hurt us and move on, let negativity out of our lives and make room for new experiences and emotions to come in and fill our hearts and souls. Letting go is also something we need to address physically. Think about clearing your wardrobes, your cupboards, your drawers, your handbag/man-bag, your car, and all those places that you rather not look at because they are too cramped! Most importantly, think about clearing you body and soul: this is the perfect time for a cleanse, a detox and some mindful liberation of all unwanted emotions. There are plenty of things you can do, perhaps you could look at my website for inspiration (click here to visit my detox pages) or book yourself a consultation with me to guide you through some techniques - just send me an email. You might find that your body will start producing more mucous this time of the year - its own way of removing toxins and other unwanted chemicals from the body. Try not to suppress this with tablets - so that your body can get rid of this stuff - and maybe think of ways to assist this process. Some warm spices like turmeric and ginger are great, as well as white foods such as parsnips and pears. This time of the year is great practice for us to also replenish our digestive flora, so you might want to think about increasing your consumption of fermented foods like miso, tempeh, marmite, sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha. All fermented food will help you with friendly bacteria to relate your digestion and they are also rich in B vitamins. On the Kombucha note - watch out for my launch at the beginning of October - I am launching NaturAlly FED Kombucha and you'll be able to taste my mega tasty version of this fantastic drink at a few events or by purchasing it online - more information to come! Finally, you might want to think about your home and the space that you live in. Pagans used to build altars to the change in season to celebrate the equinox, but in our modern society maybe placing some pumpkins on our doorstep or hanging a wreath of autumn colors on your door or other decorations around the house might just do the trick! Here's a few ideas for you! Have a lovely Autumn and see you all soon!

Wonder why your voice raises?

I absolutely love this story, so I thought I'd add it to my blog! Enjoy!! Wonder why your voice raises as you become more and more upset with someone? This lovely little parable was kindly sent to me by a friend who found it both helpful and amusing! Screams

One day teacher asks his disciples, ‘Why do people scream when they quarrel?’

‘Because they lose inner peace,’ replied one disciple.

‘But why scream, if the other person is next to you?’ Teacher asked. ‘Is it not possible to speak to him in a soft voice? Why scream, if you are angered?’

Disciples offered many answers, none of which satisfied the Teacher. In the end Teacher explained:

‘When people are upset with each other and quarrel, their hearts
distance from each other. In order to cover this distance and hear each
other, they have to scream. The more angered they become, the bigger the
distance between them and, consequently, the louder they have to yell.’

‘And what happens to people who are in love? They don’t scream.To the contrary, they speak softly. That is because their hearts are close to each other, and the distance between them is short. And what happens as their love strengthens? They don’t speak, they whisper and become even closer in their love. In the end, even whispering becomes unneccessary. They look at each other and understand everything without words.’

Weight loss - 12 months and counting!

I thought I'd do a recap of my journey over the last 12 months, since today marks a year since I was fitted with a gastric band and so much has happened since then! I spent my life yoyoing between fat and thin, starving and stuffing, happy and sad and after trying so many "diets", I thought that surgery was the answer - the solution to my weight management. I say management because for quite some time I have believed that weight is a monster to be tamed and kept under control - an evil being that is so powerful it can command me to do crazy things! Like going to eat KFC or McDonalds 3 or 4 times per week, on top of take aways in the evening and sweets on my desk at work - not that I thought that it was any sort of issue whilst I was doing it either! Anyway, after reaching 106 kg and fed up with my appearance, my mind was made up, my money ready, and I had researched and contacted 6 different companies before deciding which one to have my surgery with. So I made my way to Derby the night before the operation, for the first time thinking about the magnitude of my trip. I had been on a prescribed "liver-shrinking" diet for one week, measuring and calculating tiny amounts of food that I could eat in order to loose weight and reduce the size of my liver before the operation, so that it wouldn't get in the way of the surgeon. I had lost 1 stone (7 kilos) just doing this: similarly to other quick-fix diets, I felt great about the weight loss, but I also knew that it was one of those short-lived results. I left paper love hearts on each pillow of my husband and kids on my way out of the house and called them on FaceTime in the evening, before the mandatory selfies and rest. As I was in bed, I feared that maybe this wasn't it and that I was putting myself in danger of undergoing surgery and not waking up, or that it might still not work. BUT I still went through with it the following day - of course! Achy and sleepy, I made it to the toilet the flowing afternoon to admire my scars and take another selfie - just in case the weight had already magically disappeared... of course it hadn't. Over the following month, I had to learn how to eat again, starting with a diet of just liquid food like clear soup, broth, bovril. Then moved onto a thicker liquid diet where I started adding some small portions of plain yoghurt, runny smoothies, or blended vegetable soups. After almost a month, I was then able to start eating some easy mashed up solid food - slowly chewing my food and listening to my body's new feeling of being full sooner than I ever expected. I found that the band does restrict the amount of food you can eat in one sitting - especially given that I loved BIG portions and buffets! However, you could still overeat if you really wanted - it might just take you longer! However, something that I also learned whilst on this journey is to stop eating when I'm no longer hungry rather than stopping when I felt full - big wake up moment for me! I have to say that although I did loose some weight and reduced the size of my portions considerably, and even rejoined the gym (going 5 mornings per week!) my weight plateaued at 90 kg and no matter what I did, it did not seem to shift one bit! Annoying!! However, the good thing was that at least I was not putting the weight back on! I spent the summer feeling great and much slimmer than I had been in years - getting reacquainted with a more comfortable and confident me. By the time I got to the Autumn, it was obvious to me that the gastric band was not really doing anything for me - I had learned for quite some time to manage my food intake and still not eating big portions, but the KFC was starting to creep back in from time to time, in small portions but still not what I was supposed to eat according to my nutritionist who sent me an email every couple of months to tell me what I was supposed to eat without expecting an answer or actually calling me to check what was going on - or to know whether I was even still alive given I didn’t answer one single email of his… shocking! So I got to Christmas time, still weighing 90 kg, still eating the odd KFC and still having a pretty healthy diet - or so I thought - but the gym was starting to slip! But hey, who really cared about the gym when I had a eat-all-you-can 24/7 cruise going round the Caribbean to look forward to?? Hell yeah, restaurants aboard open throughout the day, ice-cream bar as well as self-service machine, a-la-cart 3-course dinner every evening, oh and let’s not forget about the cocktails - especially the Nutella-ice-cream one during one of the midnight buffets just in case I had missed out on some treat during the rest of the day!!! Mmmmmm Despite the lovely food, I felt really run down by stress, I had bad sinus pain and congestion pretty much throughout the holiday, I was bloated and had headaches... What a lovely way to enjoy the holiday! It is a miracle really that my weight stayed at 90 kg with all I ate whilst away, but little did I know my life was just about to change... A friend of mine I went on holiday with and a devout vegetarian had been telling me about this naturopathy course that she had been on - believed it or not I have always thought that health starts from within and turned to herbal remedies plenty of times. I was intrigued to know more. Once home, I started reading about the course she had been on as well as others and the more I read and the more I felt the need to know more. I needed to turn my health around and I had this urge to do it quickly! It didn't take me long before I enrolled and started the course within a week! I found studying Naturopathic Nutrition enlightening and thought-provoking: so many basic yet overlooked concepts about health and nutrition started flooding my mind and I started making the changes that I was reading about. So I increased my hydration considerably, went gluten and sugar free, addressed my Omega 3s and 6s ratio, and started detoxing techniques such as enemas, fasting, castor oil packs, and Epsom salts baths. Within just a couple of weeks I started feeling a massive difference in myself and slowly developed a greater sense of wellbeing: my headaches and sinus problems disappeared, I had the heaviest sleeps I had in years, I felt less bloated, more energised, AND I lost weight without having cravings for naughty food!! That in itself was the single best victory for me. I actually shifted from dieting to being healthy almost without realising it and with little effort. I lost another 9 kg in 4 months, almost as much as I lost in the previous 8 months - quite significant given that I actually eat quite a lot, but of the right food. Naturopathic nutrition has also changed the lives of my husband, kids, friends and family, as well as the lives of the people that have come to me for a consultation, support and advice. It has reawakened my senses, my energy, my spirit and more importantly it has given me a new lease of life, a more focussed and happy life. As I've fed myself naturally and found that nature is my ally in many ways, I could not resist to play on words - so here's to NaturAlly Fed! Here's to a new life and new path! Here's to those that have inspired me and thought me along this journey! And here's to those who support me and are joining me in this crazy yet amazing new chapter of healthy happy life! Love, Fed naturally! ;)

Fully hydrated - the only best way to keep healthy.

Do you drink your two litres of water per day? Do you really? I thought I did drink a fair bit, especially when I added together all the cups of coffee, the teas, the glasses of water, and the wine in the evening... until I started researching and reading more into hydration! The answer is: most probably not! Dehydration is step one for many issues that we can create for our body: our body cannot function without proper hydration; when we are dehydrated, our body produces histamine resulting in allergy; when dehydrated, our brain shrinks and can this can cause mental health issues, depression and bad behaviour; when we are dehydrated, our body becomes acidic, toxic and cancerous. To understand hydration properly, we need to take a little step back and look at the composition of our body, our cells and how it should work in perfect circumstances. I will keep it all very basic and easy to follow, but there are loads of books and websites out there on these topics to help getting a much deeper understanding of this fundamental - and often misunderstood - part of our health. After all 80% of our body is made up of water and therefore we should develop a better understanding of the part that this element plays in our life just based on that. Our body is made up of cells that create tissues, organs and systems. Cells can be quite different and play different roles, but they all have similar characteristic: they have a semi-permeable membrane that selectively lets substances and chemicals through, and fluid within its membrane. 70% of the cell is made up of water, which allows chemical reactions to take place for the cell to be able to function. Most of the chemicals used by our cells are dissolved in water and can be transported through the cell membrane: sodium and calcium (which are acid forming), and magnesium and potassium (which are alkaline forming). The acidic-forming chemicals go into the cell and the alkaline-forming ones are released in the day time, whilst at night the opposite happens – this is what our body does for its pH to keep balanced around 7. When our pH is below 7 our body is acidic and when our pH is above 7 our body is alkaline. Generally speaking, if our diet includes too many acid forming foods, such as high amounts of meats, grains, dairy, and sugars, the body becomes more acidic. If you eat too many alkaline producing foods such as greens, fruits, and sea vegetables, the body can become too alkaline. What we put in our body has a huge effect on who we are and how we function in the world: balance is key. A virus will only manifest itself in the body if the environment is acidic for example. Just take a glance at some of the graphic below to get a sense of how this all works. When we talk about hydration, the first thing to think about is the pH of the water that we put in, which should be 7 or above. This is easily addressed since most bottled water brands these days state the pH on their label. If we don’t, then our body has to work to make its chemicals balance out. In the same way, we should make sure that the water we drink is chemical free or at the very least filtered, otherwise our liver and kidneys must filter dangerous chemicals such as liquefied chlorine, fluorosilicic acid, aluminium sulphate, calcium hydroxide and sodium silicofluoride. Just google some of these chemicals to see how dangerous to our health they really are. To come back to our body, all chemical reactions produce toxins that need to be expelled from cells, from organs, and ultimately from our body. Toxins are dissolved in water and expelled by the cell through the membrane, then through the lymphatic system or blood, filtered through the liver and kidneys, and finally excreted as urine or feaces. This can only happen providing that the cell is fully hydrated, which means that besides water we need ensure that the membrane is healthy so that it can hold water inside and to allow for chemicals to permeate through. The membrane of the cell is made of fatty acid, therefore omega 3 and omega 6 need to strongly featured in our daily diet if we want to ensure that our cells and body can retain the water successfully. These can be added to our diet through fish, algae, walnuts, avocado, soaked linseeds, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds. And finally, the part that we started with, how much water should we be drinking to be fully hydrated? An adult body normally needs 4 pints of water, children need 2 pints, and babies and toddlers need ½ pint to 1 pint – providing that we are healthy, do not move, and do not interact with anything or anyone around us! There are loads of things that can dehydrate us and when this happens then we need to drink more, but what exactly should we think about? And how much more should we drink? AND is there anything else that could help us keep hydrated? Here’s for the dehydrating factors: Pollution: emissions, central heating, chemicals Acid forming foods: gluten, dairy, processed, dehydrated or dehydrating foods Stress: being in the wrong path, stressful job, relationships, financial matters, discrimination, emotional problems, traumatic events, illness Technology: mobiles, WIFI, Bluetooth, microwaves, computers Lifestyle: travelling, exercise, sleep, drugs, alcohol Now, for the amount of extra water, we should look at how much exposure our body gets to the above factors: the more we subject our bodies to, them more water we should replenish. Just for a couple of examples: for each cup of caffeinated coffee we should drink an extra pint of water, we should drink a glass of water for each hour of travel, and lots of water before we exercise. We should also remember that our body needs hydration constantly, so water should be introduced BEFORE we lose hydration rather than when we are already dehydrated, otherwise we are asking our body to continue functioning whilst we are deficient. One more simple thing to remember is to hydrate our food before consumption, in particular any grains, pulses and seeds should be soaked before cooking so that the absorb more water and do not dehydrate us once in our body. To conclude, when we think about keeping hydrated, we should always think mindfully about our body composition: if we are 80% water, then 80% of what we put into our body should be water – good quality water! If we do anything that creates stress or dehydrates us, then we need to drink more; and we do need to eat nutritious foods in order for our cells to function and retain water to keep us hydrated. #Recipe

Enemas and fasting

It isn't every day that you hear people talk about having an enema - even though going for a colonic seem to be more and more a trendy thing to do, enemas are still somewhat taboos. Nevertheless, enemas date back thousands of years and are very embedded in some cultures more than others. Many families in Italy (where I come from) besides having bidets that seem to be still so funny and misunderstood in other countries, also use a little pump enema - a pear-shaped rubber bottle with a long tip - which gets filled with water and pumped into the rectum either to relieve constipation or to help flushing and cleaning the rectum. Although I'm not a novice at enemas, I thought I would attempt a deeper cleanse give that the moon was waning and I still felt bloated from the Christmas indulgence. I decided to combine enemas with a fast and a colonic cleanse based on Bentonite Clay and Psyllium Husk. I started with taking one big teaspoon of clay and one of husk mixed with water once in the morning and once in the evening for the first 3 days, then added one more dose around midday. Other than this mix I drank water and herbal teas, making sure to flush my system as much as I could. I also drank one glass of Kombucha per day to help my digestive flora with some healthy probiotics. I found that the hunger pangs decreased as I persevered with the fasting and it became very second nature to continue. After 5 days of just water and teas, I introduced some miso soup (mainly for warmth) and fresh juices. On day 8 I have also had some yoghurt. I did an enema every night consisting of 2 pints of warm water 3 times each evening. I kept the water inside around 5 minutes to begin with, then 10-15 minutes for the second enema, and 20 minutes for the third. On day 6, I also did a garlic enema to help killing any parasites that might have still been lurking around. Unfortunately, as much as I hoped to get rid of plaque build-up, the most that came out of me was sludge. It wasn't very pleasant and in fact it was rather smelly and I was glad to get rid of it. Nevertheless, I feel somehow cheated or let down that no plaque came out - maybe I didn't see it? I certainly felt very cleansed and somehow I also experienced some deeper spiritual benefit: I can only describe it as being more mindful and connected, to myself, to others and to this world. On top of this, I also lost 3.5 kilos in the process (half a stone), so I definitely feel lighter! Having never experienced doing enemas coupled with fasting - and considering that in the past I used to gorge myself before being able to say I'm full - I think that fasting added an important element to the cleanse. I thought that I couldn't go past one day without food, I now feel like I don't want to put anything in my body to pollute what I've achieved. Also, I can't wait to do another one, so I'm going to consider a regular fast, maybe one day each week, or a few days out of each month.

Castor Oil Compresses

I was very interested in trying the castor oil packs since my personal priority is to cleanse harmful toxins from my body. I ordered castor oil and unbleached cotton bandages online and I was very excited when the package arrived. I waited for an appropriate time in the evening to do the packs as I wanted to also try them on my children. About a year ago, I had a problem being overweight and I was diagnosed with a fatty liver. Therefore, I thought that my priority was to start with the liver. Whereas both my children have quite a few issues with their lungs: cough, mucus on the chest, poor breathing, and constant colds. So, for them I packed both their lungs and liver, given that the liver needs to be also packed when focusing on an organ that is above the liver. I've started with the children, given that they were so curious and excited about what I was pulling out of the cupboard that they would have probably cried if I had started with myself. I soaked the cotton sheet in the castor oil in a little bowl and squeezed the excess - I must say it is an incredibly sticky oil and I immediately thought that it would be difficult to remove from furniture and any clothing that gets stained from it. I got the children to remove their T-shirt, then applied the bandage on to their chest making sure to cover both lungs as well as the liver. After doing this, I wrapped cling film all around the cotton and made sure that the whole area was covered so that no oil could leak out. I then proceeded to do the same for myself, but just covering my liver. Whilst we waited I explained to them about this technique and what it is working to achieve, trying to get the children to relax and not touch the pack too much! After about 20 minutes, we all went to our bathroom and I started with one child at the time by unwrapping the cling film off and then removing the pack, making sure to fold it and store it in a labelled bag for each one of us. Then straight in the shower to remove the oil excess and wash off any other toxin that might be still lingering on the skin. The children went straight to bed after their shower and didn't take long to fall asleep, so maybe they felt relaxed To some degree. As for myself, I stayed awake for a while longer and watched some TV then went to bed to. Other than feeling relaxed and soothed, it is hard to quantify the effects of a castor oil pack after one use. However, a month on, both children's mucous seems to have cleared or certainly decreased. One of the children, who has always had a persistent and phlegmy cough seems to have almost completely disappeared.

Yoga - namaste!

I have always been fascinated by and attracted to yoga. Whether it was the serenity that surrounded the people I watched of seen in magazines and online, whether it was the look of their amazingly-sculpted bodies, or whether it was the flow of energy that exuded from their expressions and smiles at the end of their session. Yoga is one of those eastern traditions that I just keep dipping into and wanting more and more of. My yoga journey began some 15 years ago, when I lived with a friend who was practicing yoga daily. Although he was not religious, the precision of his ritual and the consistency in his practice made yoga look like he could not live without it. He had developed his routing and it didn’t take me long for me to start edging in and asking him to show me the ropes. The unfortunate thing was that he was most definitely not a teacher and didn’t have the time to spare to teach me what he had learned, but he did however point me in the direction of some good books and websites. Within a few months, I managed to teach myself a few positions and had enough basic knowledge to try and follow what my friend was doing. But I was lacking commitment and time. Time has always been an issue for me: time flies way to quick and there’s always so much to do. I have always been a busy boy, but time became even more scarce when I was a busy and workaholic CEO of a charity working long hours, spreading myself way too thin and failing to look after myself. In fact, I would say that more than a lack of time, it was just that the timing was wrong and although I did continue to try my poses from time to time and joined the odd class here and here, my approach had no consistency or commitment. Fast-forwarding a few years and with yoga teachers and studios sprouting up all over the UK, yoga seemed to become trendier and generally more available everywhere. Though my issue by this point was still the lack of time and commuting for work, which made it impossible for me to sign up to a local class. However, I did sign up to FitStart Yoga – a mobile app - that provided a guided routine as and when I could actually do some yoga. Finally armed with my mat, towel, water bottle, and mobile and the guidance that I needed to develop a routing and some confidence in my practice, I started practicing more regularly in the early hours of the morning when the rest of my family was still asleep. This also made me think about the need for me to rethink my routine, especially going to bed a lot earlier that I was. I have been practicing yoga more regularly and I have also joined a gym which provides yoga classes within their membership. This allowed me to start comparing myself to others by being in the same class with other people practicing yoga for the first time. As much as I enjoyed the sessions, the practice seemed quite schematic and rigid, but I also felt I was neither being guided or corrected. By now, I had also started to re-evaluate my direction in life and as I started my Naturopathic Nutrition course and began to consider other changes to my person and to my career, I decided to become a teacher of yoga. So part of my exploration lead me to trying different classes and styles with different teachers coming from different backgrounds. I realised very quickly that something was missing. My practice, both at home or at the gym, lacked some spirit. The type of yoga that I had been practicing was very fitness-focussed, whereas the classes I attended had a soul, through the breathing techniques, the “Om”-ing, the chanting, the relaxation, and the more powerful and intense movements. Suddenly it all started making sense, suddenly the time is right! I have started researching teacher training courses and reduced my options down to a few schools. I then went onto trying classes: Gitananda yoga, Power yoga, and Kundalini yoga. Gitananda This type of yoga is Swamiji's codification of the ancient teachings in a modern scientific manner. His Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga tradition is a gentle, yet powerful technique which is not so much about contorting your body and pushing yourself to the limit, but rather tuning your body and your breath into poses that enhance your soul. My experience of this class was such a positive one that it inspired me to do my teacher training in this very traditional style. Power This is most definitely the most active and athletic style of yoga I tried. It was originally adapted from the traditional ashtanga system in the late 1980s to appeal to aerobic-crazed Westerners. Power yoga doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses each time like ashtanga does, so the style varies depending on the teacher. However, they are always intense and yet satisfying. Expect to sweat and be pushed to the point of wanting to end the session, but also expect HUGE satisfaction for sticking with it and not walking out! This is the class that inspires me to push myself and try to achieve more, but not every day. Kundalini The practice of kundalini yoga features constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the kundalini (serpent) energy in your body working your way through the shakras and opening your mind to new vibes and the cosmic divine. I found this type of yoga very spiritual whilst it was also very energetic and hard at times, not as hard as power yoga though. It is definitely a practice to try and keep in touch with, because of its very rich spiritual content.

Epsom Salts... and relax!

I have always been partial to a lovely bath. I think that it tracks back to being a child and not having a shower in my house until I was in my teens. I can still remember my grandmother putting me in the bath as a baby and covering me with love and giggly tickles as the rest of the family were spectator to my show. Being piscean, water has always been one of my attractions and comforts, and as I grew older I learned to enjoy a bath at the end of my day as a treat and to wind down from the chaotic jobs that I had. I didn't have a bath every night, as I normally find that a shower is way more convenient, environmentally friendly, and quick. Yet you just can't beat a bath! As part of my Naturopathic Nutrition training, I was asked to try and review 3 different naturopathic techniques and amongst the ones that we covered I was very interested to try the Epsom Salts. I have a page that details more about what the salts are and how to use them (click here to read), but here I wanted to just describe my experience. I bought my Epsom Salts online, certainly the best way to get good quality salt without being ripped off - I checked some of the prices on the high street and they are totally shocking! I was very impatient to try them the moment that they arrived, but with two young and very busy boys and 3 dogs - Jack Russells that will bark at any noise - I though that it was best to leave it until the evening. Once the boys were asleep and the dogs loving some cuddles from my husband, I darted for my bathroom armed with salts, a bottle of water, and a book on the five elements of Chinese medicine. After getting the right temperature for the gallons of water pouring into the tub, I opened my first bag of Epsom Salt and took a good look at the packaging, the salt itself, and its texture. Next, I had a good sniff, but no particular smell hit me. Finally, I could not resist having a test of one of the grains, which look very much like rock salt, but believe me, taste nothing like it! I immediately had to wipe my tongue as the salt is extremely bitter and disgusting - to my tastebuds anyway! - then proceeded to add the whole kilo bag to the water. At last, I was ready for my first Epsom Salt bath. I slowly and gradually lowered my body into the water, allowing my body to get used to the temperature and all the while scrutinising whether my senses would pick up on anything different. I then rested a little while under the light of the chandelier that dangles on top of my bath and decided to pick up my book and do some reading. An Epsom bath should last around 40 minutes: the first 20 for the body to release its toxins, and 20 minutes for the body to absorb Magnesium from the salt. I was very conscious to make sure that most of my body was covered by the water for the first part, but I particularly focused on my feet, as the body releases toxins from the top to bottom and inside-out. Whilst for the absorbtion part I was more conscious to ensure that my core was submerged and even made sure to hold my breath and put my head under the water to ensure that the minerals were getting into my whole body. For the last 10 minutes, I actually had to put my book down as I felt so relaxed that I was going cross-eyed and could no longer read without going over the same line again and again. The bath has to be repeated 3 consecutive nights and the experience has been very similar on all of them. After the bath, once I cooled down and dried myself ready for bed, it didn't take me long at all to fall asleep. On the course, I learned that Magnesium can really help out the body in getting a deeper and better sleep: on the first night, my husband had to wake me up in the middle of the night because I was snoring really loud (the loudest I have ever snored since being together apparently!). The second and third night was apparently a very similar experience for my poor spectator, but for myself I can definitely say that I had very deep and relaxed sleeps all 3 nights. Something that I am not accustomed to as I have often suffered with insomnia and always been a light sleeper. Besides the deep sleep, I have also benefited from the release of an ache in my shoulder that had been playing up over the last few days - which has suddenly disappeared. Although I still have to evaluate whether the Magnesium has also helped my cells health, my hydration and a better flow of my C'Hi in the longer term, I can certainly state that it has helped my relaxation and also my mindfulness - allowing myself to live in the moment of healing and soothing naturopathic experience.

My Naturopathy Journey

2017 is definitely the year of change for me. Having gone through several diets in my life as well as making myself ill through work, unhealthy lifestyle, lack of exercise and sleep, I decided some time ago to make some radical changes. In May 2016, I had a gastric band fitted so that I could restrict my food intake. Now, I have never been absolutely huge, but equally I have always been overweight and liked my food. Overeating and binging being my main problem. I have always been conscious of my health and very often chose herbal remedies over drugs, but I still needed to look deeper and I have finally decided to completely break from everything in a sense. I decided to retrain myself, not just career wise, but my whole self. I have enrolled on a Naturopathy course and this page details my journey as well as my practice. Happy reading!

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