Archive for January, 2011

The Real Reasons Why People Overeat: Perspective from Paul Brown

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

How are those new year resolutions coming along – still going strong or fallen by the wayside? The commonest area people try to control is eating habits, life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner Paul Brown is here to offer some insight.

Over half the population of the UK is now overweight – this worrying trend has been unaffected by the economic downturn and is forecast to get worse. ‘Sizeism’ is a word that is now in everyday language, it can be frustrating for those discriminated against because of how they look. This is especially the case when you consider that overeating is not a conscious choice for the vast majority whose quality of life is affected by it, something that the skinny ones fail to appreciate!

At the start of January battle cries are sounded up and down the land – “This time my willpower is strong and I’m finally going to overcome that habit of overeating to become slim!” The problem, however, is that the more we try and force that part of us responsible for overeating into submission, the more we back it into a corner and it explodes with an episode of binging. The result is that we’re back to square one but, with all the resulting guilt and exhaustion, actually feeling worse than before!

This pattern will be all too familiar to many people – we kid ourselves into thinking “this year I’m really going to change” but, even if we try an alternative to last time, a radically different approach is required – one that will get to the root cause of the issue.

A long-standing habit of overeating is usually the result of the conscious mind failing to solve the problem by itself. Whenever issues of ‘willpower’ arise, it can be incredibly useful to delve a little deeper. Sigmund Freud may have given the subconscious mind a bad name but it’s in the deepest parts of our mind that the cause, and hence the solution, lies…..

The Single Most Important Cause of Overeating
‘Will you lose anything if you reach this goal?’ is often ignored and yet is the most important question to ask oneself when setting goals. Unless it’s properly addressed (and any issues brought into the light) we may experience a part of ourselves sabotaging our efforts. This will resonate with anyone who has ‘fallen off the wagon’. Quite often the answer may be below the radar of the conscious mind but a deeper part of us is actually providing (in its eyes) a useful service. OK the behaviour may be seen as unhelpful or even destructive (in the same way that a neglected child may create a scene to get attention), but there is always a positive intention (or value) behind the actions (as we say in NLP). Only by identifying what this is (reasons will vary between individuals but may include comfort, security, self-esteem etc) will empower a person to find alternative, non self-sabotaging alternatives.

Without engaging with this ‘rogue’ yet integral part of us we’re likely to experience fluctuations in weight for many years to come. Whilst this process is best carried out with help from an NLP practitioner, here are some other useful tips:

1) Focus on what you want (for example being slim and in control of what you eat) rather than current body image or ‘not being overweight’ (the subconscious mind can’t process negatives!) We get more of what we think about – our thoughts shape our future so let’s try and make them good ones!

2) Brainstorm a list of what being in control of eating would do for you. By ‘stepping up’ into our goals we can really bring them alive, and this will provide us with the day to day motivation to develop new habits. For example, if eating sensibly would give you more confidence really imagine what that would be like – what could you see, feel and hear? Also what would other people notice about you? It’s the ‘goal beyond the goal’ that contains the driving force of emotion. Do this exercise for everything on your list – how do you feel about the original goal now?

3) Take ownership of your life – there are people for whom there is a medical cause for being overweight (such as hypothyroidism) but many more who blame circumstances outside their control. These may include genes, upbringing or work-related stress. Like all beliefs, this will create your reality. Taking control may appear daunting at first, but it’s the first step in getting back the life you want to lead – one of possibilities, not restrictions!

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that a desire to change (and having a clear idea of what you actually want) is the single biggest factor involved in success in any field. Our current situation is a result of our past thinking, not our current – every day is truly a fresh opportunity. Good luck!

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The surprising truth about fruit sugar, from a pioneer of functional medicine

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

What could be more a more virtuous food choice than fruit? Natural, full of fiber and vitamins, it is a great snack, and a healthy way to start the day. Or is it?

Dr Georges Mouton, MD, pioneer of functional medicine, gives lectures on – amongst many other health and wellbeing topics – Fructose Damage, that sum up why we should limit intake of this sugar.

Fructose as a potential health hazard

Fructose is the natural sugar found in fruit, and many people believe it is a healthier sugar than glucose, or sucrose (which is around 50% glucose and 50% fructose) – because the body does not bring insulin into play to process it. For this reason, sweet products for diabetics often replace the glucose with fructose, and generally we feel that using agave or fruits to sweeten a dish is preferable to using standard sugar.

However, there are many reasons to steer clear of fructose, whether it comes from completely natural sources such as fruit or honey, or – much worse – in processed forms such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and from agave nectar, which is rarely genuine and often little more than well-marketed HFCS.

In his lecture, Dr Mouton explains how a high fructose diet can accelerate chronic kidney disease and potentially cause certain types of liver disease. He also cites studies that suggest a link between a population’s fructose intake and the incidence of high blood pressure. The metabolic syndrome, which involves central obesity, high blood pressure, and abnormal blood lipids, pre-disposes towards cardiovascular disease and also seems to be triggered by excessive fructose consumption. One study suggests that reducing fructose intake might help to slow the growth of pancreatic cancer.

If all that is not enough, a high intake of fructose can lead to fat gain, in both adults and children.

Fruit – an unnatural food if consumed in excess
Whilst much of the problem with fructose comes from processed forms, such as HFCS widely as a sweetener, overuse of fruit juices and smoothies and simply eating too much fruit can alas be harmful for fat loss efforts, and for longer-term health. Many people find this difficult to accept, since fruit is a naturally available food that humans have enjoyed for millennia.

The truth is that until relatively recently, the overwhelming majority of fruit consumed was seasonal, and available mostly in small quantities – bananas and oranges would have been a luxury in the UK, and there would be no strawberries available in winter. Now we can have any kind of fruit at any time of the year, and this is not how fruit should be eaten. Additionally, the plump, sweet varieties of, for example, strawberries on the supermarket shelves are far removed from their wild cousins – consider the size and taste of a wild strawberry.

In Northern European climates, fruit would naturally only be available for a few months – late summer and early autumn. It would then of course be possible to preserve fruits over the winter, putting up apples, or making jams, but the majority of the fruit eating would probably take place over a short period. Before these methods of preserving came into being, early humans would only have been able to eat fruits as and when they were available, and combined with our natural liking for sweet foods, this would have meant a brief fruit fest, before the weather turned colder. There may be an evolutionary reason for this timing, allowing the acceleration of fat storage before the possibility of winter famine.

If you have ever picked your own fruit, you will know how tiring collecting and selecting fruit can be – this is another element that is removed, when we can obtain any fruit without effort.

Fruit was once a seasonal treat that required physical work to obtain. Now it is readily available all year round, in whole and processed forms (smoothies, juices, bars), and we are encouraged to eat several portions of it per day. This style of fruit consumption is unnatural, and many of the fruits we eat are unnatural, in that they are bred for sweetness, and consumed out of season, in countries where they would never normally grow. Add to this the problem of high fructose corn syrup, and we see that our diets are drenched in a type of sugar that has been shown to be potentially harmful for health.

For fat loss, I recommend cutting out fruit. For active, lean individuals, the best fruits are those that are in season and that are less sweet; the best time to eat these is around intense exercise.

Dr Georges Mouton is an internationally acclaimed pioneer of functional medicine. He lectures all over the world, and runs practices in Spain and in London. He is the author of “Dr Mouton’s Methods” and “The Intestinal Ecosystem and Optimal Health”. To find out more and to read his articles and lecture notes, see

Dr Georges Mouton, MD

Seasonal Awareness and Wellbeing Book coming soon!

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

My book on Seasonal Awareness and Wellbeing will be coming soon!

This is a fresh approach to looking and feeling better. By harmonising with the seasons, it is possible to reduce problems such as winter depression, and to make the most of other seasonal energies. For example, making massive lifestyle overhauls in January is out of kilter with what happens in nature at this time of year – it is not a time of great change. By refining your goals at this time, making small modifications and waiting until the days lengthen to really get going with a new diet or exercise plan, you greatly increase your chances of success, and will avoid reinforcing the idea that “healthy living is difficult”.

See the book’s Facebook page for seasonal insights and the opportunity to discuss seasonal topics!

Also follow us on Twitter @BPC_Wellbeing

Hypothyroidism article

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

My article about sub-clinical hypothyroidism was published in the December edition of Natural Health magazine.

Thyroid P1
Thyroid P2
Thyroid P3

New photos by Vince Starr

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Hope you like the new photos of Stan on the site, these were taken by photographer Vincent Starr at Starr Studios Film and Photography Studios in East London, and also form part of Stan’s personal portfolio.

Vince is an exciting sports advertising and portrait photographer. He has worked with a range of sports people and celebrities shooting for Nike, Adidas, Britain’s Next Top Model, FourFourTwo, Rugby World, Empire and Ministry of Sound.

The shoot was a lot of fun, although quite tiring for Stan with all the jumping and BJJ moves!