How to reduce stomach bloating

I see many clients with a wide variety of digestive issues and like them you may also be suffering indigestion, heartburn, constipation, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea or the most common issue; irritable bowel syndrome which usually includes all those symptoms and some more besides.

But the one thing that gets mentioned most often is - stomach bloating.

Read on if you would like to discover:
  • What causes stomach bloating
  • How to reduce bloating after eating
  • A simple, natural remedy to get rid of bloating and abdominal gas

Stomach bloating is a big issue for many people. Bloating can occur at any time and it can be uncomfortable or even painful. Admittedly there are many reasons why you may be suffering this particular digestive complaint but there is one thing that you can do to help reduce stomach bloating and I recommend this bloating remedy to virtually every client I see as the first step towards a life without bloating and pain.

It couldn't be more simple! If you want to reduce bloating after eating ...

.... chew, chew and then chew some more!

Yes that's all there is to it and here's why. Digestion starts in the mouth. It's where the food gets physically broken down by your teeth but it's also where it gets chemically broken down by the enzymes in your saliva; particularly the carbohydrates. When you think about it it makes perfect sense.  If you swallowed something whole you wouldn't be surprised if you got a painful, bloated stomach. You'd expect your digestive system to struggle. Yet the majority of us quite happily swallow whole pieces of food and then wonder why we become bloated after eating.

We eat far too quickly. We chomp, chomp, swallow and the food makes only a passing acquaintance with this vital, first stage of digestion.

If you eat too quickly and you only give passing lip service to chewing you essentially miss out this vital stage. The food hasn't been broken down adequately either physically or chemically and this can only cause problems further down the line; problems in the form of gas and bloating often accompanied by stomach pains or discomfort.

If you think of your digestive system like a factory; a production line with a specific function taking place at each stage along the line. The raw materials come in at one end, but they're all packed-up. The raw materials need to be separated out before you could possibly build anything with them. And so the first thing to do is to unpack them. If you didn't do this you'd hardly expect the factory to run smoothly.

Of course we do all chew our food we just don't chew it well enough. And it's usually the carbohydrates that we have difficulty with. Have you ever tried chewing spaghetti? I mean REALLY chewing it. Chewing it till it is indistinguishable in your mouth, broken down by your teeth and 'dissolved' by your saliva. It doesn't happen unless you take time to think about it. And usually we don't think about chewing because we don't appreciate the importance of it.

We eat mindlessly

In fact for many of us the time we don't think about food is when we are eating it!

It's not just spaghetti that poses a problem. Do you chew mashed potatoes? Or rice? Probably not. We generally swallow those things whole. What about soup or the ever-fashionable smoothie? Physically broken down? Yes. But not chemically broken down. So the carbohydrates are still in their complex form. They haven't been broken down in to simple sugars which are easily processed further along the digestive tract.

So your digestive system struggles. The 'food' begins to ferment in the gut and the result is gas and bloating that you would probably do anything to get rid of. I'm not suggesting you chew soup or your morning smoothie but slowing everything down will certainly help. Keeping food in your mouth long enough for the first stage of digestion to take place can make a huge difference to how you feel later on.

This all sounds very simple. A remedy for bloating that doesn't involve changing what you eat or taking medication. Chewing. Is that really all there is to it? Well ... no. There are other reasons why people experience abdominal bloating and I would always recommend being checked by your GP to rule out anything serious: coeliac disease, issues with the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, ovaries or a serious gastric condition such as Crohn's disease. Stomach pain and bloating may also be the result of a food allergy or intolerance, but for many people it is simply down to the fact that we eat too quickly.

Taking time to chew food well is something you can do in your own time, to improve your digestion and ultimately improve your health

We live in a society where little time is given to eating. This is unnatural. As a small child you probably ate slowly, chewed everything well and stopped eating when you were satisfied. That's how it should be. Of course modern life often dictates that our eating gets squashed in to a time frame that doesn't generally allow for protracted mealtimes and so you have probably been eating too quickly for most of your life. 

I know, when my children were small, I was as guilty as anyone of rushing them to eat quickly; waiting impatiently with the next spoonful before they had finished the last. I trained my children to eat quickly - because that's what I did. Food was often eaten on the run. And when you get in to that habit even when you do take the time too enjoy a meal your chewing is always going to be too fast. Sometimes people do take a long time to eat but they are simply taking time BETWEEN each mouthful rather than taking time OVER each mouthful. There is a difference. Allow the food to be digested in your mouth and you are much less likely to experience a stuffed, bloated stomach after eating.

Do you rush your breakfast; the most important meal of the day? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you think about what you're eating as you eat it or is your mind on other things as you 'inhale' your food before dashing out/back to work/to get the dishes cleared? You may answer 'no' to those questions in which case you're heading in the right direction. But do you swallow food that's still recognisable? If the answer's 'yes' then try slowing down the rate that you chew; being sure that all the food in your mouth is liquid before you swallow it; because that could be all it takes to get rid of bloating for good.

Easier said than done eh? You've been eating to quickly for your whole life.

So how do change the habit of a lifetime?

The first step is to develop an awareness of what's happening when you eat; understanding the process of digestion will help you to eat more mindfully and therefore more slowly. And to practice. It takes three weeks of concentrated effort to develop a new habit but this is one that's really worth developing particularly if you're suffering from bloating and pain. Knowing that eating quickly could cause you to experience bloating and gas makes it so much easier to develop the good habit of eating slowly and chewing your food well.

Why not experiment? Go from one extreme to the other; eat something really quickly and see how you feel then eat the same thing the following day really slowly, chewing until it's liquid in your mouth and see how you feel after that. Bloated? Probably not. If you are bloated then I would recommend looking more closely at what you are eating as you may be intolerant to something such as cow's milk or wheat. You may be over-eating or you may be eating the wrong combination of foods for your system.

But for most people eating mindfully and chewing food well is all it takes to get rid of bloating.

It's amazing the difference chewing can make!

What else would help? Taking smaller mouthfuls so that the ratio of food to saliva improves. Chewing. Always putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls. Chewing. Thinking about what you're eating. Chewing. Stop eating when you are comfortably satisfied. Never eating meals in front of the TV or at your desk. Oh and did I mention? ... Chewing!

So why exactly does eating too quickly cause bloating? Well, for a number of reasons. First of all it's important to understand that when you chew not only are you beginning to digest your food in your mouth so that it's in the right form when it arrives in the stomach and small intestine but you are also sending a message to your stomach that food is on its way.

In fact this process begins as soon as you anticipate the food in front of you, even before you've taken a mouthful. Just thinking about the flavour and smelling the appetising aroma will cause you to salivate. And as you salivate and then begin to taste and chew your food your stomach will respond; preparing to accept the food that it knows is about to arrive.

This process takes time so if you bolt your food your stomach won't be ready to receive it, your digestion will suffer and you'll get abdominal bloating. You need to give your body time to create the right environment to digest your food properly; time to release enough stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile. If food is not broken down properly in the initial stages of digestion (the mouth and the stomach) when it arrives in the small intestine it can cause a lot of problems including gas, bloating and acidity.

Basically the chemistry is all wrong. The particles of food are too large for the small intestine to cope with and so it begins to ferment, or cause inflammation that affects the lining of the gut, or be so unrecognisable that it's treated as an allergen.

None of this is good news. It can all cause that uncomfortable and painful abdominal bloating and it can all be reduced dramatically by chewing properly. The other factor involved here is that it takes a good twenty minutes for the brain to register that he stomach is full so if you eat too quickly you will probably eat more than your stomach can cope with.

So slow down your eating, pay attention to the sensation of fullness and stop eating when you feel comfortably full rather than stuffed

In this way as you take the pressure off your digestive system you'll naturally eat the amount that your body needs; probably a lot less than usual. This is a great way to reduce abdominal bloating and a natural and healthy method of weight control too!  

You maybe, like I did, think that you do chew properly. Well here's some guidelines that you may like to follow just to see if it makes a difference. It's a good idea to practice this on your own so you can really focus on what you're doing. Once it becomes a habit it's easier to do it in company. It takes three weeks to develop a habit but once you have, the habit will stay with you!

How to get rid of bloating and chew your way to a flat stomach
  • Always sit down to eat
  • Take some time before you begin to really think about the food you are about to eat
  • Relax and consciously let go of any tension - really important if you're at work!
  • Always use cutlery if you can
  • Take small amounts in each mouthful
  • Put cutlery or food out of your hands between mouthfuls
  • Wait until you've swallowed before preparing the next spoonful, forkful ... or whatever
  • Chew slowly so that the food gets plenty of time to be affected by the saliva
  • Chew some more
  • When you think you're ready to swallow ... chew a bit more
  • Notice how liquid the food has become compared without how it may have been in the past
  • Notice how that feels as you swallow
  • When you feel comfortably full. Stop eating!
Admittedly this is pretty extreme and it might take you twice or even three times as long to eat so you do need to make time for that. But there's a lot to be gained from making time to eat properly. Good digestion, a life free from bloating, a nice flat stomach ....

Often when we are developing new habits it pays to go from one extreme to the other so that when you relax about it you drift in to a happy balance somewhere in between; never fully returning to the old bad habit. If you practice eating in this way consciously you will find that, in time, it becomes unconscious and natural. And having a flat stomach free from bloating and gas will become natural too!

So there you have it!

It's simple!

Want to be free from stomach bloating?

All you need to do is CHEW!

If you want to read more about the benefits of chewing and how to get rid of stomach bloating you may be interested in the Viva Mayr Diet. 

The Viva Mayr Diet: 14 days to a flatter stomach and a younger you

However. And this is quite a big however. Assuming that your GP has ruled out any underlying conditions if you have been practicing this technique yet are still suffering regularly from abdominal pain and/or bloating you may well have a food intolerance and no amount of chewing is going to change that; in which case I would recommend that you have a Food Intolerance Test done to highlight which foods may be responsible. Good luck!

Oh! And one last thing. 

Is weight is an issue for you too?  

If so - Discover how a simple childhood belief could be affecting your weight. 

How to think yourself well

There's a lot to be said for thinking yourself well. By this I don't mean telling yourself you're fine, doing too much and ending up in a more serious condition. What I mean is that if you tell yourself that you are feeling better you probably will be. If you tell yourself you're feeling worse that will probably be true too.  

Whatever we focus on tends to grow so it makes sense to use your thoughts to your advantage.

Here's a little story to demonstrate what I mean. A few years ago when my son was nine he slipped and fell on the ice. The weather had turned very cold unexpectedly during the night and as he left for school in the morning, he ran down the path, his feet went from under him and he did a comedy (although clearly he wasn't laughing), feet-over-his-head fall. I picked him up, checked for breakages, of which there were none, kissed him better and sent him off to school.

When he returned at the end of the day I could tell that all was not well. He was tearful and just not himself. As the evening wore on he developed a high temperature but had no other symptoms; no headache, no sore throat, nothing, just a temperature and the need for lots of cuddles and a nest on the sofa. I used cold compresses on his forehead, gave him plenty of water and some children's Paracetemol but it had no effect. As the evening wore on he was still the same. His temperature was over 100.

What to do? Before I bundled him off to A and E I thought I would try one thing. My son has a very vivid imagination so I asked him to imagine that he was on a journey. I took him (in his mind) out in to the cold, frosty night. I described the crackling ice, the glistening treetops, the smell of the cold night air and how it felt as he breathed it in to his body; how wonderfully cooling it was. I took him flying over the rooftops, all the time suggesting his body was feeling more and more comfortable.

I described the twinkling stars and invited him to pick one that was just for him. One that would help him to feel well. I then brought him back to the comfort of the sofa. The whole 'journey' lasted no more than 15 minutes. When I checked his temperature it was normal. And it remained so.

His temperature was a result of the shock he'd had when he slipped on the ice so there was no infection present, but even if there had been the visualisation could still have helped reduce his temperature. Our minds don't make a distinction between what's real and what's imagination, so when he was imagining that he was outside in the cool air his body responded as if he was.

This story demonstrates how physical symptoms can respond to thoughts. And it's not just that we can reduce them. We can produce them as well. Have you ever listened to someone talking about head lice and started to itch? Or heard someone coughing and you've started to cough too?  It make you think doesn't it? Just to what extent can we prolong or reduce our symptoms just by the way that we think about them?

So the next time you feel a cold coming on instead of reaching for the drugs why not try a more thoughtful approach? 

After you've suffered the undoubted discomfort of snorting salty water and drinking the contents of the spice rack (see my natural cold remedies) you could give your nose and throat a virtual treat.

Use your imagination in any way that seems appropriate to you. You could imagine that you've shrunk in size and have traveled right in to your throat; see the roughness and the inflammation and imagine that you are soothing it with warm, liquid honey or cooling blocks of ice. As you breathe, imagine the air around you is a beautiful colour that heals everything it touches. You could even kiss yourself better. It doesn't matter. It's whatever seems right to you.

And as you go through the day try to think and talk positively. Put aside any 'woe is me' thoughts and replace them with the understanding that your body has the wisdom to heal itself and the message to yourself that you are returning to good health. Avoid phrases such as 'sore throat', 'blocked nose', 'feeling rubbish'. And instead tell yourself that your throat is healing, your nose is feeling clearer and you are feeling better all the time.

How to get rid of spots

Want to know how to get rid of spots, acne, blemishes, zits, plukes, breakouts or whatever else you may call them? Read on!

Spots and acne, as I'm going to refer to them here, are a problem that can cause misery and frustration. Spots generally strike during puberty but can continue well in to adulthood. I know this from experience. Despite the fact that my mum told me my skin would clear up by the time I was eighteen, I had spots, every day, well in to my forties. Some people are lucky enough to go through their teenage years with clear skin or only the occasional spot but develop full-blown acne in later life.

If you're suffering with bad skin wouldn't it be great to know what might be causing the spots and how to get rid of them?

Here are some simple strategies to help you get rid of spots together with some insights in to why the common ways to treat spots and acne are often counter-productive.

If you want to know how to get rid of spots it's helpful to understand what causes spots in the first place. There can be many causes from diet, to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, to stress, to hygiene, to hormone imbalance. For some people it will be just one factor that causes the acne. For others it'll be a combination.

So what I would suggest is that you read through this article to get an overall picture of what causes spots and acne, think about which factors might relate to you and then .... experiment!

Try things out. Make some changes. And watch what happens! 

And please send me your comments. It's always good to hear from people who have been reading my articles.

Most doctors will tell you that spots and acne are not affected by diet. They'll claim that it doesn't matter what you eat and that the way to treat breakouts is with topical lotions or antibiotics. I beg to differ! Big time! I had spots on my forehead and chin every day from puberty until .... well, until I changed my diet. Now? Maybe one spot every six months. And I always know why it's appeared. And how to get rid of it.

Many sufferers, if their problem with spots has been severe and persistent, will have been prescribed acne medication in the form of antibiotics. Treatment can go on for months and although this is usually effective in the short term, the acne often returns as soon as the medication ends. This is because the medication treats the symptoms, it doesn't get to the root cause.

It's a bit like a warning light flashing on the dashboard of your car. You take the fuse out. The light goes of. Problem solved? Of course not. There's still something wrong with the engine. Acne is a warning light; a sign that something is wrong internally. It's your body's best effort to deal with the problem. Getting rid of the acne without looking deeper isn't the solution. The problem that caused the acne in the first place will still be there.

It's far better to look at what might be out of balance, treat that and then view the improvement in the skin as a sign that you are moving towards better health.

There is something else to be aware of when it comes to treating acne with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria. This is clearly a good thing if you are wanting to get rid of a life-threatening bacterial infection and many of us may not be around today without them. However, the problem is that antibiotics don't discriminate between the 'bad' bacteria that causes infections and the 'good' bacteria that we need to support our digestion.

So, in short, if you treat acne with antibiotics you may get rid of the spots but end up with a digestive problem instead. This becomes even more important when you consider that acne is linked to poor digestion. I'll explain later in more detail exactly how acne can be linked to poor digestion but for now I'd just like you to hold that thought in your mind and ask yourself this - if your acne is linked to poor digestion surely it's a bad idea to treat your acne with something that makes your digestion poorer?

When clients come to see me for help with skin conditions I'm not so much concerned with what's going on on the surface as with what's happening at a deeper level within the body. I take the view that the acne problem is just an indication that something somewhere is out of balance; it's the warning light. Most often the problem is to do with the elimination of toxins. There is a process whereby toxins are moved through the body to be eliminated via the bowel and the bladder.

The skin is also an organ of elimination and so if the body is having difficulty eliminating through the bowel and bladder it may use the skin as a way to ease the strain.

When elimination is working well we tend to feel fine and our skin is clear. However if your lymphatic system is over-whelmed, your bowel isn't functioning particularly well or your liver and kidneys are struggling your body will find another way to get rid of the toxins. You skin is an obvious route out. Although for some people it's the upper respiratory system that's used and they'll get a lot of mucus.

Some people get both. Spots and snot! Now there's a winning combination! Other people may have difficulty eliminating through any channel and experience a whole range of symptoms related to that. But that's a whole other story.

So how do you make sure that your body is able to eliminate toxins?

 (What I am referring to as toxins is just anything that your body needs to get rid of to keep things in balance) The first thing to look at is your bowel function. Problems in your bowels may be showing up on your face as acne, spots, clogged pores, dryness or excessive oiliness. Problems in your bowels can be down to a number of factors such as a deficiency in the bacteria required for good digestion but the first thing to look at is hydration.

Hydration, or rather the lack of it, can have a very detrimental effect on the skin. There are two specific reasons for this. Here's the first one. What you eat and drink passes through your digestive tract. When it enters the colon (also known as the large intestine) it is in liquid form. As is passes through the colon, water is absorbed through the colon wall. This causes the liquid to become drier and thicker and so the stools are formed.

The stools should be the right consistency to pass through the colon and leave the body comfortably. It's largely through the colon that the body receives its hydration. This is why people become dehydrated very quickly if they have a gastric bug with persistent diarrhoea, when nothing is staying in the colon long enough for water to be absorbed.

So what happens if you're under-hydrated?

Well, if you're under-hydrated more water will be drawn through the wall of the colon and the stools will become dry and hard and difficult to pass. The stools get stuck and stay in the colon for longer than they should and as the bowel is just a big long tube it's a bit like blocking a pipe. Whatever comes in to it next will get stuck too. And the toxins that should be leaving the body are absorbed through the wall of the colon.

From there they make their way in to the blood stream and back through the liver and the kidneys. In a sense creating a grid-lock which will cause your body to try and find another way to clear the toxins out. And this is where your skin comes in. There are lots of symptoms that indicate that the blood isn't being cleansed sufficiently. Problem skin is one such symptom.

In short, your body is always trying to do the best it can with what you give it to work with. If you don't give it enough water to cleanse and there's grid-lock in your bowel your body will find another way to eliminate toxins. The skin is an organ of elimination. So if you want clear skin? Get a clear bowel.

Drink plenty of water to keep your stools soft and moving easily. And try to avoid foods that can clog the bowel, such as wheat-based products like bread and pasta, and foods that are high in sugar. Aim for a diet rich in the water holding fibre found in fruits and vegetables. Foods that are high in fibre but lacking in water can have a drying effect so soak seeds, nuts, dried fruits and muesli well before eating them. Avoid diuretic drinks such as tea and coffee as they have such a drying effect and obviously keep alcohol to a minimum

Drinking water is one of the most important things you can do to help get rid of spots and keep your skin clear.

Water keeps things moving. It allows your body to cleanse and it keeps your skin hydrated. It's an odd fact that skin can be dry and oily at the same time and this is the second reason why a lack of hydration can cause problem skin. If you don't keep your body well hydrated your skin can become dry and start over-producing oil in an effort to keep the skin supple.

Often our tendency is to try to get rid of the oil using harsh cleansers but this only makes the situation worse as the skin goes in to over-drive producing more and more oil. The oil sits in the surface, blocks the pores and creates a breeding ground for spots and infections.

So the first thing to do to get rid of spots is to be consistent with the amount of water that you drink. And it does need to be just water. Water that comes in the form of tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and fruit juice doesn't count! (I know you'll find reports that claim that tea is as hydrating as water but I'd bet one of my kidneys that the research behind it was funded by a tea company)

Be sure you keep yourself well hydrated throughout each day, from morning to night. A good couple of litres should do it. If you're working in an air-conditioned environment or are doing a lot of exercise you may need more. Don't go overboard though and drink an excessive amount. Too much water isn't a great idea either as it can be difficult for your kidneys to handle and cause your body to flush out necessary minerals.

So the first thing to look at if you want to get rid of acne is your hydration. Closely followed by your digestion. As I mentioned earlier the antibiotics that are given to clear acne can, in a roundabout way, contribute to it. Or, in fact, any antibiotics that you may have had for any reason. You may have been given antibiotics in childhood that are having an impact on your digestion in adulthood.

We need to have the right balance of good and 'bad' bacteria in our bowel. Antibiotics kill off some of the good bacteria and this allows the 'bad' bacteria, or yeast, to grow. Once that happens, unless addressed, the imbalance can last indefinitely. Low levels of good bacteria can lead to poor digestion. If what's passing through your digestive system isn't being digested properly it can clog the bowel. And, as you know, a clogged bowel can lead to clogged skin.

It might be helpful at this point to point you in the direction of my article on bloating which explains the benefits of chewing as inhaling food is not great for digestion either and not the best way to a clear complexion.

Before I say any more about the causes of spots and acne I'd like just to say a bit about the importance of keeping skin clean. Although acne is generally caused by some sort of internal imbalance it can be made a whole lot worse if your skin is trying to support another life force in the form of bacteria that we can easily pick up just going about our normal lives.

One of the first things to be aware of is that every time you touch your face you are at risk of spreading infection. When I was a student and suffering from acne the spots were always on the right hand side of my chin. I realised that I would sit in lectures with my right hand supporting my head. Any grubbiness on my hand was being transferred to my face so I made a conscious decision to keep my hands away from my face and to cleanse my face when I came home each evening rather than waiting till bedtime.

 If you live in a city, as I do, there's just a general griminess in the air that you end up wearing on your skin. And if they're not clean, hair, hats, scarves, phones and hands can all contribute to spots and acne.

Over the years of working with clients who were suffering from acne I began to notice a pattern emerging. Men and women would tell me that their skin had got worse (or the acne had first appeared around their mouth and chin) when they started a relationship. At first I thought it must be down to a change of diet that can often happen when people get together.

Or if the women had gone on the pill that could have caused a change in hormones or a mineral imbalance that could cause acne. (More on that later) But then it occurred to me that kissing and sex could be responsible for an increase in bacteria on the skin ... a type of bacteria that wouldn't normally be there.

When you think about it, it makes sense. If you have spots around your chin passionate kissing and oral sex may be responsible. So, I know it's not very romantic but before drifting off into a post-coital sleep, if you get up to have a pee, give your face a quick cleanse at the same time.

Okay! Moving on! :)

So many of us, teenagers especially, spend a lot of time with our faces not too far from a screen. Most of the teenagers that I know watch TV on their computers whilst doing homework, chatting on Facebook and listening to music. I don't know the statistics but a great many people stare at a computer for a large part of their working day. You may be one of them.

Have you ever noticed how much dust a computer attracts? This is due to the electromagnetic charge. When you are sitting close to a computer you are affected by the electromagnetic charge and can, yourself, attract dust! Problems with blackheads and clogged pores can be the result. Also keyboards are generally pretty grubby places to be, so making sure that you wash your hands after using one can help. That, and keeping your hands away from your face will help keep your skin free from the bacteria that could cause spots.

This is Part 1 of this article.  Part 2 to follow soon.

In Part 2 I'll recommend specific changes to diet that can help get rid of spots for good, supplements that will support the skin and a range of products that can help too.

How to control weight easily

Are you trying to control your weight by avoiding certain foods, counting calories or skipping meals? Do you find the process complicated and get frustrated when, as soon as you go back to eating normally, the weight creeps back on?

In that case would you like to hear about a very simple technique that will help you to get rid of excess weight for good? That doesn't involve either will-power or a calculator.

All you need is an open-mind!

Then read on and I shall let you in on a secret that will help you control your weight.

It's not food that makes you fat -
It's the belief you have about food that makes you fat

Open your mind to the possibility that the beliefs you are holding about food may be wrong. Change them to ones that are true and helpful to you and you can control your weight easily and permanently.

Beliefs? What beliefs?

Well ... let me give you an example.

Have you ever stopped to consider who decides exactly how much you eat? You may think that YOU do because you're in control of what you put in to your mouth. But if you always clear your plate then whoever served your meal has already decided how much you're going to eat before the food arrived at the table.

So if you are wanting to control your weight you don't need to avoid certain foods or count calories. Just eat a little bit less - shave a little bit off each meal by putting down your cutlery as soon as you are comfortably satisfied. Eating the amount that is right for you as opposed to the amount that's there will allow you to get rid of extra weight without going hungry or feeling deprived.

For most people a serving is the amount that 'looks' right. We all have an idea of what an average-sized portion of food looks like and we serve this up regardless of how energy dense the food is or how hungry we are. We do this whether we are preparing a meal for ourselves or for someone else.

Then we sit down to eat. And we don't stop till the plate is clean. If the amount of food on the plate determines the quantity we eat we will often be eating more than we need.

It is those extra few mouthfuls 
that can make all the difference 
when it comes to weight control

If you're in the habit of cleaning your plate you have probably been doing this since childhood. As a child, clean plates bring approval whereas uneaten food is met with disapproval. It is natural to want approval, especially parental, so we learn to clean our plates, avoid wasting food and keep mum and dad happy. This attitude to food becomes a belief that we carry with us in to adulthood, a time when we should be in control of what we put in to our bodies.

Hand in hand with the habit of cleaning your plate goes the belief that it's wrong to throw food away.

Do YOU think it’s wrong to 
throw food away?

Most people do. But what if that wasn’t true? Let’s suspend belief for a moment and assume that it’s not wrong to put food in the bin. In fact, at times, it's a very good idea.

What affect would that have on your eating habits and your efforts to control your weight?

As a child I had a big appetite. A clean plate meant pudding so mine was always well-scraped. But I was never forced to eat after I was full. My mum used to say -

"Don't make a dustbin out of your stomach"

And when you think about it, really logically, she was absolutely right.

Once the food has been grown, harvested, processed, packed, shipped, transported, purchased, prepared and cooked it makes absolutely no difference to the environment, world hunger, the economy or your own purse if you put what’s left on your plate in to your stomach or in to the bin.

However if you get in to the habit of stopping when you’re satisfied and throwing the rest away you will soon learn what your appropriate portion size should be and adjust your portions according to how hungry you are. As you take control of your portion sizes you will begin to eat the amount your body needs and naturally reduce your weight.

On the other hand if you repeatedly eat everything that’s in front of you regardless of whether your body wants it or not you will continue to serve too much food. And if you're serving too much food then you must be cooking too much food. And in order to cook too much food you need to buy too much food.

What happens when you take 
that to it’s ultimate conclusion?

A small but negative impact on your purse, world resources and the environment?

Undoubtedly. But more importantly ‘making a dustbin out of your stomach’ will only really affect your waistline and possibly your bum, your thighs, your skin, your digestion, your energy, your self-image, your confidence ... and so on.

Those few extra mouthfuls at each meal add up to a whole mountain of extra food consumed over the course of a year. We don't put weight on from eating a few extra mouthfuls but we do put on weight if we do it repeatedly.

If you want to control your weight, control your portion size and get comfortable with leaving food on your plate.

If you have been working with the belief that it’s not okay to throw food away can you see that it is more helpful to you to adopt the belief that you shouldn’t make a dustbin out of your stomach?

So here's some food for thought:

Food that is surplus to your requirements is wasted regardless of where it ends up -
If it ends up in your mouth the only thing affected by it is YOU!
It's not just weight that's affected by chronic over-eating. You may be suffering from bloating too.  Have a look at my post on How to reduce stomach bloating for advice.

How to get rid of rounded shoulders quickly and easily

  • Are your shoulders rounded?
  • Are you developing a dowager's hump?
  • Would you like to feel stronger?
  • Would you like to appear younger?

If you've answered YES to any of the above then I can highly recommend this simple but very effective posture exercise. Surfing YouTube one day, I came across an excellent video by posture expert Dr Natalie Cordova. I tried it out and almost immediately I noticed a difference.

I've never had good posture. I'm quite tall and I find that if I don't exercise to build core strength my back seems unable to support itself. I often slouch and when I do my shoulders come forward and my back becomes rounded. This collapsed, rounded posture is still there when I stand up.

Like most people I can sit and stand straight when I put my mind to it but as soon as my wind wanders on to something else my muscles relax and before I realise what's happening I'm slouching over my desk or stooping like someone twice my age.

I know how to build core strength in my abdomen and lower back but I hadn't realised how easy it is to work the muscles that keep the shoulders back and the chest open; prerequisites for good posture.

Have a look at Natalie's video and see just how easy it is.

Obviously Natalie is wearing her sports kit to demonstrate the posture exercise but I do it no matter what I'm wearing: pyjamas, work clothes, jeans. It really doesn't matter. I do this brilliant posture exercise whenever I feel like it. Like all exercises it only works if you do it regularly so I make sure I do it every day.

It only takes a minute or two and I have found that it works well even without the added weights. I don't have dumb-bells but if they're to hand I'll grab a couple of cans of chickpeas. (A couple of cans of Special Brew would work too!)  And you can do this posture exercise anywhere. I do it when waiting for the kettle to boil, when I go up and down stairs, when I'm dancing round the kitchen to my favourite music ... I do it every day for just a few minutes because I know that it really works!

When I started doing this posture exercise I noticed a difference after just two days. I sat more upright,  I was aware that my back was straighter when I walked and when I looked in the mirror I could see that my shoulders were noticeably less rounded. I felt stronger and my body looked younger. And all with very little effort, no time out of my day and without even breaking a sweat. What's not to like about that?!

There isn't really much else to say except ... Try It ... It Works!

So now you know how to get rid of rounded shoulders. Let me tell you how to get rid of a bloated tum.

How to achieve what you put your mind to

Have you ever decided to take up a hobby, pursuit, exercise regime, diet, behaviour or whatever and after an initial period of enthusiasm lost interest, got bored or repeatedly managed to find excuses not to do it, to the point that you just gave up?

If the answer is YES then read on and discover:
  • why you may be self-sabotaging
  • how to use language to motivate yourself
  • a simple and effective way to get the behaviour you desire 
Listen to your 
internal dialogue
    If you've ever started something only to find that after the initial flurry of enthusiasm, you were running an internal dialogue with yourself as to why it would be better to do something less challenging instead, then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. There can be no end to the excuses we come up with to avoid the discomfort of doing something that we know, in the long run, will do us a whole lot of good.
      It's a very common situation. How many exercise bikes sit unused in the spare room? How many novels lie unfinished? How many 'to do' lists are left undone? (There's often at least one item that moves from one list to the next - repeatedly avoided?) How many diets never make it beyond the first week? Gym memberships unused? Meditation practices begun with great enthusiasm only to peter out after a few weeks?

      Years ago I gave up an evening yoga class that I really enjoyed. Each week as the class came around I had a whole list of reasons why I wasn't going to go: my friend's not going / it's dark outside / it's cold outside / I'm too tired / I can't be bothered (yes at that point I couldn't even be bothered to come up with a good excuse!) / I can easily miss one week (yes I could and I did and I missed 'one' week for so long that I forgot that I had even gone to a yoga class in the first place). Very quickly 'I go to yoga' changed to 'I used to go to yoga' which is now 'I went to yoga years ago but I didn't keep it up'. Do I wish I had kept it up. Hell yes! Of course I do! But I didn't. The part of me that didn't like being told what to do and couldn't cope with the discomfort that came from making the effort to go, won the battle that was going on in my head.

      There's a part of us that self-sabotages

      Often when we want to do something to improve ourselves or our situation there can be a part of us that sabotages that desire for change; the lazy, procrastinating part that prefers to stick with the easy option of keeping things just as they are. The 'can't be bothered', 'I'll do it tomorrow' part that can always think of a reason not to do whatever it is that you planned to do in the name of self-development.

      Think of that part as a belligerent child who doesn't like being told what to do. If you tell someone to do something they don't want to do they are quite likely to exercise their desire for autonomy, dig their heals in and refuse, often with all the grim determination of a three year old or, worse still, a teenager! Children tend to live in the moment and so they are often unable to see the point of doing something just to reap the benefits in the future. That part of you that doesn't like being told what to do is behaving like a child, sabotaging your efforts because he/she doesn't like being told what to do and resisting simply because he/she can!

      The inflexible demands we make of ourselves can provoke a response that is equally inflexible. Recently, before an exam, I realised that I would do anything other than the studying that I SHOULD be doing. My house has never been so tidy! I could have earned an honorary degree in pottering such was the amount of time that I wasted. I kept telling myself that 'I HAD to study', 'I MUST study', 'I NEED to study' and of course the stubborn part of me that doesn't like being told what to do became quite determined that that was the last thing she was going to do. So each day 'must study' would go on my 'to do' list and each day 'must study' would be left undone.

      The truth is there is no law that says that I must study. The demand I was making was simply untrue. I didn't HAVE to study. I didn't NEED to study. True, if I didn't study I would undoubtedly fail my exam and I would be disappointed but the world wouldn't end because of that. So each time I told myself that I 'HAD' to study there was another part saying 'Really? I don't think so!' And before I knew it I would be off dusting the light bulbs again!

      Try changing your self-talk

      I realised that if I wanted to pass my exam I would need to take a new approach. There's a famous quote by W. L. Bateman that puts this very succinctly.

      'If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got.'
      And so I became curious. What would happen if I changed my attitude? Changed my self-talk? Changed the demand to a preference? So I did just that and something shifted. The whole quality of the inner dialogue changed. 

      When I began to tell myself that 'I would like to study', I want to study', 'I would prefer to study', 'I choose to study' a very strange thing happened. I studied. Studying became something that I wanted to do and in time I even began to enjoy it. It felt satisfying to be doing something productive. I no longer felt guilty, the way I had each time I had put off studying and it all felt very good.

      I began to think about how this applied to other times in my life. When I began the yoga class it was because I WANTED to go to yoga and so in the beginning it was no effort to go. It was my choice. I wasn't telling myself that I had to go so there was nothing for my belligerent part to argue about. But after a while I began telling myself that I HAD to go to yoga, I MUST go to yoga and so that part of me began to put up resistance and the internal battle began. I would come up with all sorts of reasons not go to yoga and then feel guilty and lazy and confused as to why I was sabotaging myself.

      Often when we want to make a change we create a demand. this can be most obvious when it comes to diet and exercise. If you ever tell yourself anything along the lines of: 'I MUST lose weight', 'I NEED to stop eating chocolate', 'I HAVE to work out to lose my pot-belly'. You are making a strong demand on yourself and so you're kind of scuppered before you even begin. Try changing those demands to preferences and see how much easier they are to accept: 'I choose to lose weight', 'I prefer not to eat chocolate', 'I would like to work out to lose my pot belly'.

      Change your focus

      Those statements are definitely more acceptable but you can even go a stage further. Rather than focusing on what you don't want try focusing on what you do want. This will give your unconscious mind a goal to move towards. We tend to get what we think about so it's better to think about what you DO want rather than what you don't. And using a phrase that applies in both the present and the future helps too.

      'I choose to be slim and healthy', 'I prefer to eat healthy and nutritious food', 'I like to work out so that I have a flat stomach'.

      Don't take my word for it though. Try it yourself and see what happens. Pick something that you have been struggling with and see if changing your self-talk helps you achieve what you want to achieve.

      Let me know how you get on - I would love to hear your comments. 

      How to bake wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free cake

      For a moist and tasty vegan-friendly, wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free (cake free!) cake try this recipe courtesy of Doves Farm.

      125g/5oz sugar
      6tbs sunflower oil
      1tbs vanilla extract
      Half a ripe banana
      150g/6oz Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour from Doves Farm
      4tbs water
      1tsp oil for greasing
      2tbs jam or fruit spread
      1tsp icing sugar

      Oven 190c/Fan 170c/Gas 5

      1. Lightly oil an 18cm/7" round cake tin or line with greaseproof paper.

      2. Beat together the sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract.

      3. Mash the banana and add to mixture.

      4. Add the flour and water and mix well.

      5. Dollop mixture in to prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a wet knife.

      6. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.

      7. Remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

      8. Slice horizontally through the centre with a bread knife.

      9. Spread one half with jam or fruit spread (if you want to keep the sugar content down - St.
      Dalfour ones are delicious) and place the other half on top.

      10. Sieve a light dusting of icing sugar over the top.

      11. Enjoy!

      My lovely friend Jan very kindly made this for me (my diet's wheat and dairy free) and I think even she was surprised at how good it tasted. It's a fairly solid cake but it doesn't have the dry, crumbly texture of a lot of gluten free baking. It was very moist and very moreish!

      I would post a photo but the cake wasn't around long enough for me to get my camera out. Or maybe I was just too busy enjoying it to think of much else.

      Do you have a favourite 'free from' recipe - or a good tip for anyone with a restricted diet? All contributions gratefully received!