Archive for October 2013

Learning to Love the Foods You Don’t Like

As much as it makes sense to limit foods that are detrimental to your long term weight loss and health goals, it’s also prudent to be open minded and receptive to foods you may not like or think you don’t like especially when they can play an integral part in achieving your goals.

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It’s probably that some of the foods you love now, you hated as a child; but how many foods do you still avoid just because you think you don’t like them? There is good reason for considering this as my personal experience will testify.

Eggs and avocados: From dislike to love
I ate most things when I was young. However with eggs and avocados, I had a mental block; I went down with the flu when I was about 10 years old and attributed it to food poisoning from a boiled egg, which I had the previous day. This preconceived notion robbed me of these wonderful cheap sources of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

However in the past two years while researching for my eBook, The Fat Loss Puzzle, it became inconceivable that I could continue to ignore the benefits of eggs especially when my aversion was based on nothing to do with food poisoning or taste. Hence my new found affection for eggs (free range, organic) including the raw yolks I use in shakes, which actually taste of mild vanilla.

The psychology of taste is further complicated by our natural dislike for things that are new or different from what we are expecting; this applies to the second food I dispelled and another one of nature’s nutritional gems, the avocado. I was offered a slice while in my early teens thinking it tasted like pears because the guy who offered me a piece referred to it correctly as an avocado pear. On that assumption I proceeded to taste and very quickly made my mind up that I didn’t like it since it tasted nothing like a pear. I have been eating these gems for a few years and really couldn’t refrain from eating them; described as having a creamy, nutty taste with a creamy texture, how could anyone refuse to indulge in this top ten Superfood?

Add to that the fact avocados are a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, anti-cancer compounds and an endless list of other disease prevention attributes.

I don’t profess to be an expert in parenting, but one of the best investments parents can make for their children’s learning ability is to introduce them to a wide variety of natural foods when they are young to encourage them to embrace different tastes and textures and avoid a dependence on processed, packaged foods. For example my two previously phobic foods, avocados and FRO eggs contain healthy fats and nutrients crucial for brain development.

Unfortunately the opposite is true and our diets are dominated by highly processed foods with the optimum amounts of salt, sugar, refined oils and other additives, which literally hijack our taste buds and consequently we have no real taste sensation leaving us with a bland palate towards whole natural foods and a lack of appreciation for their true taste.

Taste is subjective, but….
People don’t know sometimes why they are averse to a particular food; for example some people don’t like mushrooms and it is suspected that this is more to do with the rubbery texture and perhaps their appearance. The unfamiliarity and strangeness of the texture makes us slightly uncomfortable and we interpret this feeling as a personal dislike. However, this reaction reflects the food’s uniqueness rather than its true character.

Is it possible to learn to like a food even if you don’t like the taste?
Definitely, but you have to be prepared to persevere and experiment. I have never had liver since childhood and developed an interest for it about a year ago due to its unrivaled nutritional profile and low cost compared to other cuts of meat.

I focused on grass fed lamb’s liver, which has a mellow taste; after playing around with it, I found a great way of serving the liver with caramelised apples and onion in a cider and crème fraîche reduction accompanied with sweet potato mash and steamed spring greens; a meal fit for a King.

Perception bias
It turns out that most of the time we decide what we like before we bother to experience it and this prejudice clouds our perception of what we actually encounter; an effect referred to as perception bias.

Knowing about this bias can help you become receptive to foods you think you don’t like and even learn to love them. The first step is deciding that there is value in enjoying a food you currently dislike. I’m not saying you should develop an appreciation for frozen courgette, but most fresh, natural whole foods are worth rediscovering for both taste and culture and let the health and fat loss aspects take care of themselves. With each experience, your taste will become more used to the flavour and your dislike will subside.

A lesson from the Chinese
Even if a certain food doesn’t end up one of your favourites, learning to at least enjoy once or twice a week will enrich your life and help you develop an appreciation for novelty and variety. The Chinese culture is renowned for its emphasis on a variety of textures in food and this preference allows them to enjoy a more diverse and interesting range of ingredients than Western cultures.

Let’s face it; there can’t be much fun in being a fussy eater. Yes it’s true that taste is subjective, but most of the time we don’t really come up with rational reasons for disliking certain foods. Surely an open minded, receptive attitude to all foods is more convenient and helps you to develop a deeper passion for food and nutrition.

Controlling Your Urges: What’s the Best Way?

Controlling our urges or cravings is not easy when we are being constantly being hijacked from all angles in our day to day lives, especially with the over abundance of food and food outlets.

There are various psychological techniques for exercising self-control in order to deal with all the temptations that face us on a daily basis be it food or any other vice. However they are temporary at best and will not solve your problems on a long term basis; that is achieved more with a change in key lifestyle factors.

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What leaves us vulnerable to these daily temptations?
Many factors contribute to this vulnerability including; sleep deprivation, excess stress, excess alcohol consumption (drunkenness), anxiety and depression.

Why does this happen?
A small chunk of brain in the front of the head called the pre-frontal cortex is responsible for our conscious and rational thinking, including impulse control. When you are subjected to the aforementioned scenarios, the body is drained of energy, which the brain requires huge amounts of in order to be able to make the right choices; suffice to say our self-control or impulse control goes out the window. In essence the pre-frontal cortex part of the brain has temporarily been impaired, in turn robbing you of the ability to think rationally when it comes to your long term goals like weight loss or weight control.

Are there any exercises or techniques we can practice?
Although psychological techniques can be very limited in dealing with impulsive moments or urges e.g. to scoff that chocolate cake, there is a physiological or biological component to controlling these urges, which may prove more fruitful at least until you sort out the key lifestyle factors.

This component is something called heart rate variability, which measures the variation in the time interval between heartbeats; a measurement most people have never heard of, but one that provides an accurate look into the body’s state of stress or calm. Heart rate variability is such a good indicator of self-control that you can use it to predict who will resist urges and who will cave in.

Recent studies [1] demonstrate that people with higher heart rate variability have an inner strength and show extra effort in working at and completing tasks even in the face of negativity, are better at ignoring distractions, delay rewards rather than seek immediate satisfaction and deal with the day to day stresses of modern living.

Many factors influence your willpower, including lifestyle factors and anything else that stresses your body or mind, which will interfere with self-control and in turn sabotage your ability to resist temptations and urges.

However focus meditation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve the physical component of willpower, by increasing our heart rate variability. Anything else that you do to reduce stress and improve your lifestyle will improve your ability to resist temptations.

There are not many quick solutions to curb potentially destructive urges, but one way to immediately have an impact is to slow your breathing down to between four and six breaths per minute; that’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath. Although this is more than you normally breathe, with a bit of practice and patience you will soon get the hang of it.

What Actually Happens?
Slowing the breath stimulates the pre-frontal cortex, increasing heart rate variability, which allows the brain and body to switch to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique should make you feel calmer, more in control and capable of handling cravings and temptations or other situations requiring rational thought or self-control.

It’s a good idea to practice slowing down your breath before you’re staring at some chocolate cake or.. You could begin by timing yourself on the number of breaths you normally take in one minute, then start to practice by slowing your breaths down, but be mindful not to hold your breath as that will only induce stress. Focus on exhaling slowly and completely, which will help you breathe in more fully and deeply without struggling. If you can’t quite manage four breaths per minute, don’t worry; heart rate variability steadily increases as your breathing rate drops below twelve per minute.

Research shows that regular practice of this technique can make you more resilient to stress, in turn enhancing your self-control, lowering your propensity to act on urges and temptations. Therefore, when you face your food related willpower challenge, practice the technique for a few minutes to boost your resolve.

It may not be a magic bullet, but until we gain control over the key aspects of our lifestyles, it can serve as a short term tool or a useful adjunct.

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Breast Cancer: Part 1

“Everyone should know that the ‘war on cancer’ is largely a fraud” – Linus Pauling, PhD, Two Time Nobel Prize Winner.

These are evocative words, but after spending two years researching and writing my eBook, you come to the realisation that cancer is big business for Big Pharma and the medical establishment.

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The ‘protective’ removal of women’s breasts due to BRCA1/BRCA2 genes has become a disturbingly popular trend, and increasingly it is being celebrated in the mainstream media and medical establishments as a reasonable choice.

After the recent hullabaloo with Angelina Jolie who probably had good intentions, but nevertheless has been misinformed and misguided, resulting in the wrong message being projected.

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death for women aged 15 to 49 in the UK and is the leading cause of death among American women between the ages of 40 to 55.

The high prevalence has created a very lucrative industry; from mammography and other dangerous or invasive testing methods, to “preventive” double mastectomies and cancer drugs.

Much effort is placed on trying to detect cancer at an earlier stage, with conventional recommendations to get regular mammograms unfortunately showing to be more harmful than helpful, as research shows 10 times as many women are harmed in some way compared to those whose lives are spared by annual mammograms.

Cancer drug therapies don’t work because drug companies have cooked the results
It’s no secret that mainstream Western medicine relies heavily on evidence-based, peer reviewed scientific studies. But that world is being turned on its head. According to researchers C. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis [1], writing in the prestigious journal Nature, 89% of the published cancer studies they reviewed cannot be reproduced.

How statistics and fear force women into money spinning procedures
The real risks of breast cancer are much less than the claimed risks. In reality, everyone has cancer micro tumours in their bodies. Cancer is not a disease that just appears; it’s a disease that is influenced by lifestyle choices, which influence your immune system, toxic and oestrogen load.

The medical establishment are controlled by Big Pharma and will use the term “risk” to scare you into believing that you have no control over cancer, where in fact the opposite is true.

Angelina Jolie with her BRCA1 gene that’s linked to breast cancer could have quite easily followed a lifestyle blueprint that would have suppressed the BRCA1 gene expression. Why? Faulty genes cause less than 1% of disease [2] and so the whole “chance” argument is nonsense. Also genetic expression is mainly controlled by the epigenome, which composes chemical compounds that can affect the gene; think of it as the gateway between the gene and your environment, your environment being the foods you eat, air you breathe, chemicals you ingest, exercise you take, sleep you get, stress you are subjected to. So you see cancer is cause and effect; there is no “luck” involved.

Why don’t many people challenge the medical establishment and Big Pharma?
George Orwell put is so eloquently when he said, “Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness”.

The Establishment and their PR gurus are very effective at creating fear, doubt and insecurity among the masses by creating false needs (e.g. drugs) to satisfy their money making agendas.

Another key strategy they rely on is social proof, defined as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation, driven by the assumption that the surrounding people (e.g. medical establishment, Angelina Jolie) possess more information about the situation.” In other words, people are wired to learn from the actions or advice from others, and this can be a huge driver of consumer behaviour.

What should the cancer industry really be doing to make a difference?
Empowering women with a sense of control over their own health is the last thing the cancer industry wants to do, because that would result in the loss of huge profits, but it would be the moral and caring thing to do.

Unfortunately it’s far more profitable to scare all women into a state of such irrational panic that they agree to the most insane things; chopping off both of their healthy breasts, leaving women convinced they’ve literally saved their own lives by agreeing to be mutilated.

How dare they make women believe there is only ONE way to reduce their “risk”
Apart from making women think they have an 87% risk of breast cancer, they scam women into thinking there is only one solution for lowering that false risk.

“For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options,” writes Jolie in the NYT; yet she utterly fails to offer women any options other than the one she took. Check in to a cancer centre and let them play “cut, poison and burn” on your body. Jolie’s NYT piece, which reads as if it were written by a PR company, offers nothing in the way of lifestyle choices and other powerful, non invasive therapies. Surely this is a disservice to all women?

But Jolie and the cancer industry seem to imply no preventative options exist other than conventional treatments because the cancer industry wants to funnel women like cattle into their slash, poison and burn system of quack treatments with Angelina Jolie as their new champion, who now seeks to “inspire” other women to exercise their own sick “choice” and have their breasts removed! Angelina has clearly lost her Hollywood marbles.

This is not empowering women, it’s conning them into self-mutilation by offering a false “risk” statistic to scare them into a ‘one and only’ destructive treatment regime.

Don’t be tricked into self-mutilation by cancer industry quacks; there are a plethora of preventative measures to avoid the expression of the BRCA genes and non invasive, safer treatment measures available if you do contract the disease.

In Part 2, we will be exploring these preventative and treatment measures.