Tag

wellspring

Browsing

TWENTY-FIVE years after his best-selling series, Conversations with God was published, Neale Donald Walsch continues to inspire people and bring a new understanding of life and of God to everyone he meets. The 1995 best-selling book was written as a dialogue between Walsch and God, as Walsch asks questions and God provides answers. The series includes nine books, which have sold millions of copies and have now been translated into 22 languages. But few might be aware of the adversity that Walsch faced before his international success.

Nearing his 50th birthday, the year before Conversations with God skyrocketed to the New York Times Bestsellers list, Walsch found himself living on the street. A broken neck caused by a freak car accident and an insurance company that refused to settle with him led to Walsch becoming homeless. This unfortunate accident meant that Walsch was unable to work and spent his savings whilst waiting for the insurance company to negotiate. Consequently, Walsch was forced onto the street where he remained homeless for two weeks short of a year. Walsch survived due to the generosity of passers-by, who would donate spare change, enough to purchase some fast food for him to eat.

Finally, Walsch managed to secure a part-time job at a local radio station, having had some experience in broadcasting when he was younger. Now earning some money, Walsch found himself a small apartment to live in. It was at this point, that Walsch realised “what a vacuous experience life really was.”

 

He found himself back in the “rat race” – get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, save a little and repeat – and asked himself, “Is this all there really is to life?”

As he overcame his lowest point in life and faced the reality of working life once more, Walsch questioned the situation that he and so many others find themselves in.

“Is this the best I can do?” At fifty years old, Walsch was furious that he had worked from homelessness to only get to this point. He wanted more from life and it was at this moment that his life changed forever.

In the early hours of one morning, he wrote an angry letter to God. “What does it take to make life work?” and “What have I done to deserve a life full of continuing struggle?” were some of the questions he posed. It was while he was writing this letter that he heard a voice over his right shoulder. Clear, plain, but nondescript.  “Neale, do you really want answers to all of these questions, or are you just venting?” Of course, he was venting but Walsch also sought answers. In his 50 years, he believed that he should know what was going on and wanted to be doing more with his life. What was it that he did not understand?

The voice had migrated into his head and Walsch began hearing thoughts that he had never had before. These thoughts came in response to the questions he had asked. The thoughts would encourage more questions, and Walsch continued writing, producing a journal-like collection of questions and answers.

All this time, he never expected anyone to see these very private and sacred notes. Yet, a year later, this collection of thoughts would become known as Conversations with God, selling millions of copies worldwide and would later develop into a successful series.

Walsch felt highly doubtful when he thought of developing the journal into a book, and with few expectations, he typed up his handwritten notes and sent it to five small publishers. Three weeks later, Hampton Roads Publishing called, seeking to publish the manuscript. The only uncertainty was the title. The publisher believed that Conversations with God was unappealing and would not attract the potential readers, yet Walsch was confident in the title – for this was how he had experienced it.

Within five weeks of its publication, the book was on the New York Times Bestsellers list. It stayed there for 137 weeks, it was a modern publishing phenomenon.

Few non-fiction books ever experience success for such a prolonged period, but Conversations with God proved highly successful.

Spirituality Assessments and Interventions In Pain Medicine

Walsch does not believe he was the “Chosen One” nor does he believe he was the only one that God was speaking to. He believes that God is talking to everyone and states that “the question is not to whom God is talking, the question is who’s listening.” Walsch stated that in denial, people may label these thoughts as a great idea, an epiphany or women’s intuition, in fear of being marginalised or ridiculed by mentioning God. But Walsch had the courage to state that he had had a conversation with God – something that other people could also relate to.

The Five-Step Process to having conversations with God

Many people ask Walsch how a person can recognise and have these conversations intentionally. Walsch has developed a Five-Step Process to answer this popular question.

Step One – Possibility:

You have to recognise that there is such a thing called God. You have to admit that people can have conversations with God and accept that they are occurring right now and have always occurred. If you reject that notion, you will not have a conversation with God.

Step Two – Worthiness:

Acknowledge your worthiness. Both ancient and contemporary people – such as Moses or the Pope – have had these experiences and can easily be viewed as more ‘holy’ or ‘wise’ than we are. Yet, you must realise that God can and will talk to you. God will make itself available to everyone all the time.

Step Three – Willingness:

You must be willing to receive such communications and that must manifest itself in behaviours that demonstrate willingness. If you are not willing for God to talk with you directly, it will still happen, but you will not know it – or you will call it something else. God will never stop talking to you even if you are not willing to have God talk to you. You cannot stop the flow of wisdom, insight and awareness that comes to you from God, you can only ignore it.

Step Four – Doubtlessness:

Do not doubt the wisdom, insight and awareness that you have received. It is natural to doubt that you are having a real conversation with God or wonder if you are hearing the Words of God. When you are clear that the message you are receiving is coming from God, do not negate the power of the message by doubting it. You have to decide that you are going to make time and space available to have such an experience.

Step Five – Immediate Action:

Act on the information you have received and act fast. Do something about it before you change your mind or before your mind gets in there and changes you. There is no point in having a Conversation with God if you are not going to do something now with the information you have received.

Neale Donald Walsch’s inspirational journey from homelessness to international success highlights the value of searching for happiness and the power of listening to God. Though faced with adversity, Walsch managed to overcome these difficulties with courage and self-belief, to publish a successful series that articulated his journey with God.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective.

The ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘keto’ or low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet in which one’s consumption of carbohydrates is reduced to 50-20, ideally 20, grams per day. When carbohydrate consumption is substantially reduced, the body’s supply of glucose is depleted, forcing it to turn to fat as an alternative source of energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis. Ketosis leads to the production of ketones, which are stored in the liver and can provide energy to the brain.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long-term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective. The keto diet has been linked to the reduction of the hormone ghrelin; the body’s main ‘hunger hormone’. The reduction of hunger signals can lead to a lower calorie intake and less food cravings, resulting in weight loss.

Following a keto diet

The rule of the keto diet is to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and small amounts of carbohydrates. Generally, a person following a keto diet should obtain:

  • 70-80% of their calories from fat
  • 20-25% of their calories from protein
  • 5–10% of their calories from carbohydrates

Ideal foods

  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Cheese Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Low carb vegetables (e.g. lettuce, kale, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and mushrooms)
  • Berries (especially raspberries and strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black coffee
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Healthy oils (e.g. olive and coconut oil)
An iPhone photographing avocado and broccoli

Foods to avoid

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans and legumes
  • High carb fruits (e.g. bananas)
  • Starchy vegetables (e.g. Potatoes and sweet potatoes)
  • Sugary foods
  • Fruit juices
  • Most milks, with the exception of unsweetened almond milk
  • Sweetened yoghurts
  • Chips and crackers
Bagels and cream cheese

Other uses and benefits

Epilepsy Treatment

The keto diet was originally used as a medical diet to assist in the treatment of Epilepsy, primarily in children.

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is characterised by a variety of unpredictable seizures, ranging from sudden unresponsiveness, confusion, abnormal behaviour, and loss of memory, to convulsions and complete loss of consciousness. A person is diagnosed with Epilepsy if they experience two episodes of unprovoked seizures (occurring more than 24 hours apart), that are not caused by another medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or drug overdose.

Keto diets are traditionally used to treat and manage seizures in children when anticonvulsant medication has not worked. Higher ketone levels in the blood often lead to improved seizure control.

Fatty Liver

Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver. In the past, fatty liver was attributed to those who consumed excess amounts of alcohol. However, today, it is more likely to be caused by other factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance.

A keto diet can assist in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by:

  • Reducing fat stored in the liver.
  • Decreasing insulin levels.
  • Suppressing appetite.
  • Promoting weight loss.

Other Neurological Issues

man eating vegetable in bowl
A little boy eating avocado

Due to extensive evidence that the keto diet effectively reduces seizures in children with Epilepsy, it has been suggested that the diet may assist in the treatment of other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and even brain cancer. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support these claims, and more human studies are required.

Risks and side effects

The ‘Keto Flu’

A sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake can come as a shock to the body, which may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms. For most people, the ‘Keto Flu’ is a group of short-term side effects that will resolve within a few weeks. These symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Bad Breath

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

As the majority of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are often not consumed while following a keto diet. This increases risk of deficiencies in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

 Lowered Bone Density

Ketosis can have negative effects on bone health. Though there have been only a few studies regarding the keto diet and bone health, results have showed depleted bone density and an increase in fracture risk.

Kidney Stones

High fat animal products, such as meat and eggs, contain little to no carbohydrates (for example, one boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbs) and are therefore staple food items in a keto diet. Eating a lot of these foods leads to a higher risk of kidney problems, such as kidney stones.

Heightened Risk of Chronic Illnesses

Medical evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Who shouldn’t follow a keto diet?

Those with impaired kidney function

As mentioned earlier, those who consume high quantities of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and cheese, are more likely to develop kidney problems. Because of this, those with pre-existing kidney issues should not follow a keto diet.

Pregnant women

When it comes to the keto diet and pregnancy, there is little research, mainly due to ethical issues regarding studies performed on pregnant mothers. However, the main consensus between doctors is that following a keto diet is not safe during pregnancy and can lead to a higher risk of developmental delays and issues with organ growth. Following a keto diet during pregnancy may also be linked to organ dysfunction and behavioural changes after pregnancy.

Those who are underweight

Though the keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat, it often leads to, sometimes rapid, weight loss. For this reason, it is not recommended for those who are underweight.

Those who suffer from, or have a history of, eating disorders

Without the advice of a dietician, it is not recommended for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours to follow restrictive diets. There is a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to eating disorders and dieting. Obsessing about the nutritional content in food may trigger eating disorder sufferers to fall back into dangerous behaviours. What’s more, those with a history of eating disorders or under eating may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, and these may be exacerbated while following a keto diet.

closeup photography of pregnant woman wearing blue panty
A pregnant woman

Keto and diabetes

There are two main types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount insulin, which is vital in converting glucose to energy. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.

There is no simple answer as to whether a keto diet is safe for those with diabetes. In some, following a keto diet may be possible and beneficial, provided they are closely monitored by a medical professional. As many with type 2 diabetes are overweight, the weight loss benefits of a keto diet may be helpful. A keto diet also lowers blood sugar levels, which may also be beneficial. Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is recommended in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as large consumption can cause blood sugar spikes.

However, there are numerous risks involved. Firstly, a keto diet may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Secondly, following a keto diet puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone bodies produce a dangerous amount of acid in the bloodstream. The kidneys then begin to excrete ketones in the urine, which can result in fluid loss. Cases of diabetic ketoacidosis usually occur in those with type 1 diabetes, due to their inability to produce insulin, which prevents the body from producing too many ketones. However, in rare cases, it has been observed in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Always remember

three avocado fruit desserts
Avocado filled with tomato and feta

Before making any changes to your diet, it is vital that you seek advice from your doctor or dietician, monitor your health closely, and report any concerning symptoms. If you are taking any medications, it is also important to talk to your doctor about any effects a keto diet may have on them. All in all, trust your body. If you don’t feel well while following a keto diet, speak to a professional about whether or not the diet it is right for you, and discuss alternatives.

Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity.

Of course it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural to feel the need to look after them. However, there is a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity

It’s true; relationships are about compromise. We give and we take. We care and are cared for in return. But how much is too much?

A couple with anchor tattoos

What is codependency?

In simple terms, codependency involves caring for another to the point where it becomes unhealthy. In a codependent relationship, an individual sacrifices their own needs in order to meet the needs of their partner. One party takes on the role of the ‘giver’ and the other, the ‘taker’. The ‘giver’ often loses their own identity while trying to heal or ‘fix’ their partner’s illness, addiction or dysfunctional personality. Eventually, the two begin to rely on one another for relief of insecurity and loneliness, rather than love.

What causes codependency?

More often than not, codependency stems from childhood. It appears in those who grew up in unstable households, where they were exposed to abuse, emotional neglect, family issues, and lack of communication. A dysfunctional upbringing can cause people to develop an insecure attachment style, which can lead to further difficulty in relationships. A person with an insecure attachment style is more likely to become jealous, clingy and constantly seek reassurance from a partner.

Individuals with low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, or trust issues, may enter a codependent relationship in order to feel wanted or needed. If an individual feels they are being relied upon, they are less likely to worry about being abandoned.

But I care about my partner. Why is that bad?

Of course, it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural for you to feel the need to protect and look after them. However, there’s a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity. A Codependent’s life revolves around their partner’s needs and emotions, leaving them with little time for themselves. This leads to isolation and loss of connection to friends and family. If your partner struggles with addiction or mental illness, your codependency may be enabling them and preventing them from seeking help. This may have negative, and potentially deadly consequences.

Codependency warning signs

  • You justify your partner’s bad behaviour.
  • You want to ‘fix’ them.
  • You can’t enjoy yourself when they’re not around.
  • You feel like your world would crumble without them.
  • You can’t perform daily tasks, like driving or going to work, without constantly thinking about them.
  • You have no boundaries.
  • You constantly seek their approval.
  • Your self-worth depends on them needing you.

Healing a codependent relationship

If you’ve lived in a codependent relationship for a long time, it can become difficult to notice or accept it, let alone change it. Though it is possible to overcome codependency on your own, many couples require professional treatment or counselling. If both parties are willing to make a change, they can work towards a healthier relationship.

As codependency is complicated, it’s important to find a therapist with experience in dealing with them. A professional can help you to:

  • Identify codependent behaviour and take steps to address it.
  • Work through unsolved childhood trauma.
  • Work on increasing self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Help with anxiety and fear of abandonment.
  • Challenge negative thought patterns.
  • Help you develop an identity beyond your relationship with your partner.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, it’s important to:

  • Take breaks

In a healthy relationship, people are able to function away from their partner. Spend time with your friends and family, go to the beach, out to dinner, to a movie or a solo outing… maybe that shopping spree you’ve been dreaming of!

  • Set yourself boundaries
    • If your partner is constantly texting you, decide that you’ll no longer answer while at work or after a certain time.
    • Don’t cancel plans to spend time with them. If you planned a day out with friends, don’t cancel it just to be with them.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t feel like spending time with them. If you’re sick, busy, or tired after a long day at work, tell them.
    • Organise a ‘date night’ with them, or plan time you always spend together. That way, you have time to yourself, while still having a scheduled time to spend time with them.

When you have become used to giving and giving, spending time on yourself can feel selfish and wrong. However, self-care is vital in relieving stress and anxiety, strengthening coping skills, and increasing resilience. Whether it’s putting on a face mask, taking a warm bath, or going on a peaceful walk in the woods, self-care can help revitalise your mind and body, leading to a calmer and healthier you.

  • Embrace positive communication.

Be open with your partner and express your feelings. If they do something to upset you, tell them. If they aren’t respecting your boundaries, talk to them. The more open you are with them, the easier it will be for them to open up in return.

  • Trust that your emotions are valid.

In a codependent relationship, it’s common to ignore or hide your emotions in fear of causing an argument. However, in a healthy relationship, both parties should feel comfortable sharing how they feel, without fearing the outcome. Regardless of whether you deem an emotion as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you are entitled to feel it.

Professional treatment

If you and your partner both decide to make a change, a therapist who specialises in relationships may be able to help you. A professional can assist you in establishing healthy boundaries, work on self-esteem and self-worth issues, and help you to recognise unhealthy thought patterns. Since codependency often stems from childhood, a therapist may also work through any traumas or unresolved feelings that may be related to your need for codependency. Overall, the goal of treatment is to allow an individual to regain their sense of emotions and identify which, in turn, leads to a healthier relationship.

Remember: it’s not your job to ‘fix’ your partner.

We all want to support the ones we love. But remember, you are not your partner’s therapist. It is important to love them without hurting yourself in the process.

Studies discover symptoms of depression and anxiety can be reduced through mindfulness meditation practices.

Studies at John Hopkins School of Medicine reveal a strong correlation between mindfulness meditation and its ability to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

After reviewing research on participants in mindfulness based meditation programs, lead researcher Madhav Goyal and his team discovered effect sizes ranged between 0.22 to 0.38 for anxiety symptoms and 0.23 to 0.30 for depression symptoms.

The Journal of the American Medical Association show these small effects are comparable with what would be expected from the use of antidepressants in a primary care population but without the associated toxicities.

“In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants,” Goyal explains.

While meditation can be dated back to ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions, this age-old practice is gaining traction from its ability to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety without the harmful side effects of prescription medication.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that mindfulness performs as well as or better than medication,”Adrian Wells professor of psychopathology at Manchester University states.

Mindfulness meditation works by establishing concentration to observe inner thoughts, feelings and emotions while focusing attention on the present moment to not be reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.

Meditation is a state of induced relaxation that focuses awareness on breathing and encouraging positive attitudes to achieve a healthy and balanced mental state.

Around one in six Australian adults now practice meditation, with the number of people who meditate worldwide rising by three times as much since 2012.

With studies revealing that mindfulness meditation can improve anything from memory in patients with Alzheimer’s to insomnia symptoms, it’s easy to see why this practice is being used by an estimated 200-500 million people around the globe.

The University of Oxford released a new study finding mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to be as effective as antidepressants in preventing a relapse of depression, further enhancing the credibility of this ancient practice.

In the study participants were randomly allocated to either the MBCT group or antidepressant group. The rate of relapse in the mindfulness group was 44%, with the rate of relapse of those on antidepressants at 47%.

Nigel Reed, participant from the study explains how mindfulness based therapy gave him life long skills to deal with depressive thoughts and episodes.

“Rather than relying on the continuing use of antidepressants, mindfulness puts me in charge, allowing me to take control of my own future, to spot when I am at risk and to make the changes I need to stay well.”

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, psychiatrist at the Centre for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders believes it makes sense to use meditation to treat disorders such as depression and anxiety.

“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power. They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’

“Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that, a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” Hoge explains.

While meditation can be dated back to 1500 BCE the benefits aren’t just an old wives’ tale as science and studies have repeatedly proven.

Meditation is known for changing the way the brain processes thoughts and emotions but new research by Sarah Lazar at Harvard University reveals it can also change the structure of the brain.

An eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program discovered increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, and certain areas of the brain that regulate emotions and self-referential processing.

Decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala were also found, with this area of the brain responsible for thoughts of anxiety, fear and stress.

These changes matched the participant’s reports of stress levels, signifying that the program impacted their feelings and subjective perceptions in a positive way through meditation.

Evidence from The University of Hong Kong also confirms Lazar’s study with further evidence suggesting meditation practices have the potential to induce neuroplastic changes in the amygdala.

Participants in an awareness-based compassion meditation program were found to have significantly reduced anxiety and right amygdala activity, which may be associated with general reduction in reactivity and distress.

These significant findings explore the powerful outcomes that can result from using mindfulness meditation practices to alter the way the brain processes thoughts of anxiety and stress.

While there is no magic cure for depression or anxiety, meditation brings hopeful benefits for those not wanting to take medication long term, or those who suffer from the intolerable side effects of antidepressants.

Although many studies suggest the benefits of mindfulness for those with depression and anxiety, it is best to consult a professional to find the best treatment option for you.

 

The media has always promoted weight-loss and the latest diets, and now social media provides a platform for the health industry to constantly expose us to marketing of diets and “health” products. As strict eating and exercise routines are normalised, body shame and eating disorders are developing.

Orthorexia? Many of us have never heard of it. But Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy, and it is thriving in the age of health, diet culture and social media.

A person who suffers from orthorexia obsesses over defining and maintaining the “perfect diet,” and fixates or avoids particular foods, such as sugar or carbohydrates. The condition involves strict food avoidance, sometimes to the point that a person will consume fewer than 10 foods per day.

Some people with orthorexia avoid many foods, including fat, sugar, salt, animal or dairy products; certain ingredients they deem unhealthy. Alternatively, they may strictly eat only ‘fats’ (keto), paleo, ‘raw or uncooked’ products. If a person with orthorexia believes ‘fat’ is the evil ingredient that must be excluded, they will strictly adhere to this rule. If paleo is the ideal diet, they will follow it religiously. What begins as healthy eating leads to inflexible food planning, studying ingredient lists and rules, and evolves into a serious risk to health.

While going ‘paleo’ or ‘keto’ mightn’t sound so bad, and the more we come to understand orthorexia and associated behaviours, the more concerning it becomes. Most of us want to pursue a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet and everywhere we look there is the promise of a new perfect diet – a solution to attaining perfect health. This captures the two biggest difficulties to prevention and treatment of orthorexia in today’s society: identification and responding to the force of diet culture.

How do we tell when someone is suffering orthorexia?

One problem is differentiating between orthorexia and regular healthy eating. Not only is it difficult to diagnose, but it is difficult for people to notice or negatively perceive it in the first place, as there is no clear “point” at which to identify when healthy eating becomes restrictive.

In our current culture, cutting out certain food groups like sugar or fat is commended. We are encouraging of friends and family making positive changes to their diet and exercise routines. Making healthy changes to diet can be beneficial and even life saving. What’s the harm?

Friends, colleagues or family members are always starting a “great new diet,” they are “fasting until midday,” or have “quit sugar.” This is often followed by, “I’ve never felt better!” Who are we to tell them it’s wrong when cutting out certain foods is the norm? Following a popular diet or being vegan does not mean a person needs orthorexia treatment, but as eating disorder specialist’s Timerline Knolls warn, “if you see common warning signs and symptoms associated with dangerous eating patterns, it may be time to step in.”

Fuelled by diet culture, a person suffering orthorexia’s focus on health is what makes it so dangerous. Orthorexia has the same obsessive quality of other eating disorders but it goes unchecked because a person suffering may not be “thin” as a result of their disordered eating patterns. Comparing anorexia and orthorexia, a person suffering anorexia is likely to adhere to strict rules around weight and how much they eat, and a person with orthorexia has rules about what they can and cannot eat. Melbourne based Accredited Dietitian Lauren Kelly says, “if I sat down with a person with orthorexia and they told me what they have been eating, I would be concerned, as they’re not eating what they usually would.”

It was not until the late 90’s that orthorexia was defined and there is still no official diagnosis. But to help distinguish between healthy eating and orthorexia, Bratman and Dunn recently proposed a two-part diagnostic criteria. Firstly, there is an obsessive focus on healthy eating that involves emotional distress around food choice. This can cause compulsive behaviours, preoccupation with dietary choices, anxiety or even shame when dietary rules are broken. Severe restrictions often escalate over time; a diet might become so strict as to eliminate entire foods groups or a juice cleanse might develop into an addiction to ‘cleanses’ or ‘fasts.’

It is sobering to remember the two planes of thought that might be operating when a friend or family member is on a new diet. We might see the person eating healthy, losing weight and hear them speak positively about their new and improved life. What we might not see is the studying of labels and measuring out of ingredients. And what we cannot see is the mental health struggles, negative thoughts and consuming preoccupation that a person with orthorexia is experiencing inside.

This disruption to daily life is the second aspect of the diagnostic criteria. Not only does orthorexia pose medical risks such as malnutrition and complications like hormonal imbalance and bone health linked to eating disorders, but it intrudes on how a person lives their life. A person suffering orthorexia will not live a freely. They will often be engulfed by personal distress and low self-worth, leading them to become socially isolated.

Diet Culture and Social Media

Perhaps the biggest concern is how to mitigate against eating disorders like orthorexia operating in a world of diet culture. When we open Instagram, we are saturated by hundreds of accounts and images of celebrities and influencers showing us the new diet they are following. Understanding orthorexia is difficult without a clear diagnosis or wide recognition in society. But if you speak to any dietitian or nutritionist, they probably know all about it.

Lauren Kelly’s biggest concern is social media. Kelly states that the dietetics industry never used to see it as a problem, but have now realised how prevalent diet culture is, “imagine a 16-17 year old watching everything an influencer or celebrity is doing and eating on social media.” With the force of diet culture it is hard to imagine issues with comparison and body image ever go away.

A confronting discovery reveals a higher prevalence of orthorexia in dietitians, nutrition students, exercise science students and yoga instructors. But well-known diet culture expert, and Accredited Dietitian, Christy Harrison is well aware of this problem, saying that the increase in “oppressive diet culture” and “healthism,” provide fertile ground for orthorexia tendencies to form, and it is driven by the health industry, including accredited nutritionists.

The link between social media and negative effects on body image, social comparison and disordered eating is categorical. Instagram is flooded with food sharing, slim waists, big bums and clothes that seem to drape perfectly on figures we are told to envy. Sounds like a perfect storm for impressionable young people, particularly young women. It is no wonder that a 2017 German study found Instagram use is directly linked to symptoms of orthorexia nervosa.

Instagram and the diet industry tell us that if we eat, exercise, look and live a certain way we will be our “best self.” We forget about the selective exposure of images and messages on Instagram, that constantly reinforce the same ideas and images. Influencers are paid to endorse certain clothing and food labels, who further profit from diet culture.

It is easy to feel a little hopeless about the combined impact of the health industry and social media, especially on young women, but there are many positives. The “health at every size” movement is growing among dietitians, nutritionists and celebrities, including models with a lot of Instagram influence. Diet culture remains a force to be reckoned with but powerful movements around body positivity, wellness, self-care, mental health and feminism are fighting back.

With one in four Australian women on the oral contraceptive pill, few are aware of the link between the pill and mental health conditions.

With more than 100 million women worldwide and one in four Australian women taking oral contraceptive pills, new research is showing a strong link between the pill and mental health decline.

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have conducted a study examining the brains of women taking oral contraceptives.

Research found that women taking the pill had a significantly smaller hypothalamus volume compared to those who weren’t taking this form of birth control.

The hypothalamus is a small region of the brain located near the pituitary gland responsible for producing hormones and regulating essential bodily functions such as moods.

Dr. Michael Lipton, head of the study, concluded that a smaller hypothalamic volume was also associated with greater anger and showed a strong correlation with depressive symptoms.

Depression affects twice as many women as men and it’s estimated one in four Australian women will experience depression in their lifetime.

Since the 1960’s, this tiny hormone-packed tablet has been treated as a miracle pill admired by women who now have the power to plan their periods and pregnancies.

With depression being one of the most predominant and devastating mental health issues in Australia, the prized benefits of the pill no longer outweigh the newly discovered evil it can create.

So what exactly is the pill?

The oral contraceptive pill is a tablet taken daily that contains both estrogen and progesterone hormones. It works by stopping the ovaries from producing an egg each month, preventing it from being fertilised.

The pill is used for many different reasons including; pregnancy prevention, improving acne, making periods lighter and more regular, skipping periods and improving symptoms of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

While the pill has many benefits for women, research suggests that it can be linked to causing mental health issues, a detrimental side effect that doctors aren’t telling patients.

Evidence from a large Danish study on links between oral contraceptives and low mood rings alarm bells as 23% of women on the pill are more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant compared to those who aren’t.

The study also found that depression was diagnosed at a 70% higher rate amongst 15 to 19 year olds taking the pill and women between the ages of 15 and 33 are three times more likely to die by suicide if they have taken hormonal birth control.

Medical practitioners are quick to point out the less harmful physical side effects of taking oral contraceptives, yet seem to fail to mention the psychological damage it can trigger to a women’s mental health.

The praised pill has seen doctors handing it out like candy on Halloween to every women complaining of cramps, blemished skin or wanting an ‘easier’ option for birth control.

While medication should only be prescribed when medically necessary to patients, the pill is being prescribed routinely and by default from doctors.

So why are the mental health side effects of oral contraceptives being hidden from unsuspecting patients who are being prescribed them?

Dr. John Littell, a family physician, explains that the side effects of the pill are not often told to patients as they are seen as not important.

“Physicians in training during the past thirty years or so have been taught to find any reason to put women on some form of contraception without mentioning the possible risks associated with these methods.”

This is alarming news as Dr. Littell also mentions that when talking about the side effects, doctors are trained to see them as less of a concern than the overarching “problem” of pregnancy.

“The pill is often prescribed without any sense of hesitation from the prescribing physician, stating risks are viewed as less important than encouraging the woman to take it,” Dr. Littell explains.

Many women are now breaking free from the synthetic hormone cocktail being put into their body daily that is mixing with their emotions.

With research telling us what the doctors won’t, it’s no surprise why the most common reason women now change or stop taking the pill is because of mental health side effects.

Articles written by women titled “Why I’ll never take the pill again” and “My nightmare on the pill” explore firsthand the impact this pill has on women and the decline of their mental state.

Psychologist Sarah E. Hill suggests that almost half of those who go on the pill stop taking it within the first year due to intolerable side effects, with the main one reported being unpleasant changes in mood.

“Sometimes it’s intolerable anxiety, other times it’s intolerable depression, or maybe both simultaneously,”

“Even though some women’s doctors may tell them that those mood changes aren’t real or important, a growing body of research suggests otherwise,” Hill states.

Digital media brand The Debrief has launched an investigation linking mental health to the pill, surveying 1,022 readers between the ages of 18 and 30.

93% of women surveyed were on the pill or had previously taken it and of these women, 58% believe that the pill had a negative impact on their mental health.

45% of women experienced anxiety and 45% experienced depression while taking oral contraceptives.

43% of these women sought medical advice about their mental health, and over half the women believed that doctors did not take their concerns seriously.

With studies revealing the truth and doctors trying to hide it, the alarming facts point to a deadly pill polluting the brains of innocent, unsuspecting women.

While the oral contraceptive pill still remains the most popular and accessible form of birth control in Australia, it should be taken with caution and use should be monitored daily to prevent the occurrence of harmful side effects.

 

Many people live as a victim of their own history. They act in servitude of bygone events and unconsciously towed into the future by the undercurrent of their past. For a person to become a master of their own destiny, we must first examine our own brain, understand what we value and change these values or forgive memories if they no longer serve us positively.

Human behaviourist, Dr John Demartini, has developed powerfully effective strategies (the Demartini Method and Value Determination) in identifying our personal values and learning manipulating oneself into becoming the most illuminated, clear-headed and equipped version of you possible.

The Demartini method, taught in his program ‘The Breakthrough Experience’, is a series of concise questions to help us see the hidden order in our daily chaos. It allows us to become conscious of unconscious information that causes us to have skewed, biased and emotional responses to events in our life.

By resetting the mind, we seek to turn negative events into opportunities for growth. Resentments are stored in our unconscious mind, occupying space and time, steering our behaviour and life. Dr Demartini believes you cannot escape the authority of past resentments and move forward unless we learn to love and appreciate them.

“I know a lady who was married to five men in a 25-year period, all of whom were alcoholics named Mike. Her father’s name was Mike and he was an alcoholic. As long as she’s got resentment for her Dad, she keeps marrying her Dad.”

 

One set of questions Dr Demartini devised in the method focuses on dealing with negative events and transforming them into positive lessons.

“Let’s say if somebody comes up and criticises you. You’re a little bit perturbed and upset. The question is what specific trait, action or inaction you perceive this individual to be demonstrating that you despise or dislike most. You define what just happened in the situation and what they did. And then you go to a moment where and when you perceive yourself demonstrating that same or similar behaviour in your own life,” says Dr Demartini

“It is not fair to judge somebody on the outside when they’re just reminding you of something on the inside, that you’re internally judging yourself for. A lot of our resentments come from things we’re ashamed of inside but don’t want to face.

“You then ask, how did that event serve you, how is it an upside? Every event has two sides, find out the upside to it and stack up enough benefits to it then you don’t have to be affected by it. You can actually be grateful for it and realise it has nothing to do with what happens, it’s your choice of perception. The resentment is no longer running you – you are running you.”

These questions assist in dusting through the attic of one’s mind in order to allow true perspective and make clear decisions that move forward, rather than murky ones that serve no one but our memories.

The complete method includes 80 questions; the 14 main questions are primarily about resolving resentment and infatuations, but others cater to more specific issues including perceptions of gain or loss, particular emotional states and dealing with dissociative states such as bipolar condition and schizophrenia.

The Demartini method exemplifies how a person can change their entire life through perception. Honed by Dr Demartini for more than four decades, it is used by governments, corporations, psychologists as well as ordinary people to reduce stress levels, eliminate emotional turmoil and focus on gratitude.

Value determination, used in parenting, leadership and self-actualisation, is a tactic to trick ourselves and others into doing something we want. It is another one of Demartini’s most popular mindset-based strategies.

Formatted around the idea that every human being, regardless of age, gender or culture has an evolving set of values that guide their life, value determination involves identifying these guiding inherent priorities in order to effectively motivate people.

Our brains create a hallucination based on how we filter reality, determined primarily by our values. Individuals are spontaneously inclined to do more of what they value and require extrinsic motivation and reminding from external sources to do things they value less.

“A mother whose highest value is children will walk into a store and her eyes will automatically seek children’s items. Her husband, whose highest value is entrepreneurship will have a completely different view when walking into the same store. Their children too will focus on different things than their parents.”

If we can identify what someone’s values are, we can frame a suggestion with their highest value emphasised. Respecting someone like a customer and selling ideas to them in terms of what they find most meaningful, will make the person both more responsive and gratified when the idea has been manifested.

This is a crucial tactic not only in parenting, says Dr Demartini, but in convincing ourselves to do something.

“If we can stack up enough benefits concurrent with your values, adding positive associations, we can eventually convince anyone to do anything.”

“If I took a hammer and asked to hit your thumb with it you’d say no, but if I told you that you could meet your biggest Hollywood crush, you’d put your thumb down on the table and say let’s go to work.”

“At a convention in Sydney, I convinced a woman at of her attraction to a not so typically attractive man in about four or five minutes. I painted a picture of him based on her fantasies, told her that he was intelligent, ambitious, entrepreneurial and suddenly her physiology changed. Because I accessed enough of her higher valued aphrodisiac centres, his looks were no longer an important factor. By the end of the conversation she was buzzing to meet him; I had to gently explain I had made this magical person up as an example.”

Values are constantly changing and growing throughout one’s life, through either gradual tweaking or cataclysmic change.

If the mother who holds her children as her highest value experiences her children dying in a horrific event, she will obviously have to adapt, and her values will subsequently change drastically. It is thus important to do a value determination test every so often to ensure we are working in accordance with our current self and not a past version.

In addition to easing difficulty in completing unpleasant things, value determinism allows meaningful fulfillment from accomplishing tasks that the individuals know are valued high to them. Increased resilience, adaptability, creativity, wellness quota and stronger immune system are tangible results seen by Dr Demartini in people successfully living congruently with their values.

Understanding oneself, knowing what we desire and having the tools to transform potentially negative situations into priceless information, are paramount to changing the relationship one has with themselves and others into something responsive and positive.

These two methods represent only a sliver of Dr Demartini’s practicing programs developed over 47 years.

More can be found on his website: https://drdemartini.com/

Human behaviourist is not a title likely to appear whilst rifling through career brochures, yet no other label fits Dr John Demartini as deftly.

A self-described ‘polymath’, Dr Demartini has studied psychology, human biology, chiropractic and neurology at a tertiary level and has an impressive field of knowledge outside that too; he could hold a perfectly respectable conversation on astrophysics if pressed. He is above all, an educator and studier of people.