Mental Health, Low Self Esteem, Body Image and Fashion.

(image: Freestocks at unsplash)

Fashion is a powerful force. It has the ability to make people feel confident, empowered, or at its worst horrible about themselves. It can have a positive impact on mental health and self-esteem if you find something pieces that make you feel good about yourselves. On the other hand, fashion can also have a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health if you’re constantly exposed to images and messages that make you feel inferior or unhappy with who you are. Especially with the inward turn of the pandemic, its hard for people to feel happy and confident about themselves.

The Psychology of Fashion

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry and a big part of many people’s daily lives. It’s a subculture that’s easy to invest in. And, like any other trend, fashion comes and goes, so you’re always in control of how much you invest in it. The psychology of fashion reveals the different aspects of how fashion impacts people’s self-esteem. From the way people perceive others based on the way they’re dressed, to how people present themselves to the world by choosing outfits, fashion has a strong psychological effect on everyone.

Body Image

Our bodies are such an important part of life, and it’s normal to have some insecurities about them. Still, as you grow older, many people struggle with body dysmorphia or an unhealthy obsession with one’s appearance. Constant exposure to images of other people’s bodies that are unrealistic and unattainable can be harmful to your self-esteem, especially in young people who are still forming their self-image. This can lead to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, low self esteem and depression and anxiety. Looking at images of gorgeous models wearing clothes you can’t afford or fit in can makes you feel left out or confused. It’s fun to keep up with trends, but try to avoid getting stuck in a rut of hype culture.

(image: Hannah Morgan at Unsplash)

So what should I do?

You can’t ignore fashion and societal trends- but it’s important to not let fashion (or what is popular to wear) become something that defines who you are. It’s a fun accessory, something you should do for enjoyment, creativity, and confidence. For people who have found themselves struggling with their mental health due to the psychological effects on body image, it’s important to seek help. Talk to your friends and family members, or seek professional help if you need it. There are many ways to find happiness in style- whether you’re into vintage clothing, a specific designer, or a particular style like athleisure. You can read blogs with good recommendations, and wear things that you love, like that pair of perfect trainers or Men’s Off-White Hoodies. There’s something for everyone, and it’s important to have fun with it!

Fashion and societal expectations of how one should look can have a big impact on mental health, so it’s important to be mindful of it. It is also hard to be bombarded with negative messages on body image via social media. The body positive movement has sprung up because of this narrative- showing curvier models and embracing your flaws as beautiful.

There are also many ways to wear your favourite clothes in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, without negatively impacting your mental health. Focus on what makes you feel like the best version of yourself!

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains do follow links.

New #ChangetheStory Campaign by Hope Virgo and The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition shows rise in Eating Disorder Stereotypes.

(image: Change the Story Campaign)

#ChangeTheStory and Anybody and Everybody is a new campaign launched this month by The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition which is chaired by Multi-Award winning campaigner and Author, Hope Virgo. Hope is a friend of mine who has campaigned for years for help for those with eating disorders and she is a force to be reckoned with and an amazing woman!

Eating disorders are serious, biologically based mental illnesses deserving of equal clinical and research funding to that given to other complex diseases. They want to ensure that no-one with an eating disorder need experience shame or guilt, and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

Author and Multi-Award winning campaigner, Hope Virgo who chairs the coalition says;“When we think of eating disorders we often immediately think of a white teenage, emaciated girl and fail to realise that eating disorders are so often hidden in plain sight amongst all ages, genders races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations and socio-economic statuses. The campaign is working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from an eating disorder and to make sure that everybody has prompt access to specialist services.”

(image on Twitter: Change the Story campaign, Hope Virgo and FEAST outside the Houses of Parliament)

Eating disorders are not new illnesses, but there has been a massive rise in cases during the pandemic. Unacceptable delays before treatment means we are also seeing a rise in avoidable chronic long-term illness and loss of life. We need to ensure that we are no longer hiding behind the global pandemic but ensuring that the right support is in place for everyone because no one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2022. They are working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from a biologically based illness and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

To raise awareness of the campaign they have created a video supported by Instagram. For a long time, people have used Instagram to challenge stereotypes about body size, share their journeys with overcoming body image issues, and celebrate different body types. 

 Renee McGregor, leading Sports and Eating disorder specialist dietitian said;“We need to change the images, narrative and practices presently associated with eating disorders in order to ensure that no further lives are lost to this illness in 2022 or beyond.” 

Suzanne Baker, CarerRepresentative for F.E.A.S.T. (www.feast-ed.org)in the UK, said;“timely access to sustained, specialist treatment is key to recovery from an eating disorder at any age or stage. Currently too many people are not able to access this treatment often due to misconceptions about what an eating disorder ‘looks’ like. There is no one look – eating disorders are serious biologically influenced illnesses and are often hidden in plain sight.

Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the Eating Disorders Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “No one chooses to have an eating disorder. An eating disorder can affect anyone at any age and can be caused by a range of factors including genes, mental or physical health conditions and social pressure. The stigma around having an eating disorder prevents many people from asking for help when they need it. No one should feel embarrassed to ask for help. An eating disorder can have very serious long-term effects on the body, but with treatment, people can fully recover. Raising awareness of this issue is an important first step in helping people to get the help they need. If you think you may have an eating disorder, speak to your GP who can refer you to a specialist counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. You can also visit the NHS Choices website to find out what additional support is available, including confidential helplines.”

Gerome Breen, Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at King’s College London says: “Research and its dissemination are essential to dispelling the unhelpful myths and stigma that surround eating disorders and compound their long-lasting and devastating impacts. By understanding more about why and how eating disorders develop we can improve society’s conceptualisation of these conditions and hopefully enable more people to seek and receive the support they need.”

(image on Twitter: Jeremy Hunt MP with Hope Virgo)

You can help by posting a selfie to support this campaign with the hashtag #changethestory.

Watch the video here to discover more about the campaign:

Try These Simple Depression Meals When Life Gets Hard by Kara Reynolds

(image: Unsplash)

Being an adult is exhausting.  We’re expected to work, build a career, keep a house, feed ourselves, socialize…the list goes on and on.  When you have kids, that list doesn’t get any shorter — instead, it expands to include keeping small humans alive, healthy, entertained and happy.  Becoming a mom is supposed to be one of the most magical parts of your life, but what they don’t tell you is that it can also be the hardest. Mom life is hard. There’s no point in sugar-coating it.

When that massive list of things that you’re expected to do becomes overwhelming, here are some simple depression meals that can help you eat healthily and keep everyone fed without putting in too much effort or relying on takeout. 

Nutrients That Impact Depression Symptoms

Depression is one of those things that we tend to only talk about in reference to other people, but it’s more common than you might think.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO). around 5% of the global population suffers from depression or around 280 million people. There are a lot of different ways to manage your depression symptoms, all of which should be overseen by a medical professional, but there are some small changes that you can make at home that might have a positive impact.  This includes changing the foods that you eat.

Research has shown that some specific nutrients might help manage depression symptoms include; 

  • Amino acids like tryptophan (found in turkey and chocolate)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (found in oily fish)
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Iodine

Switching your diet around to ensure that you’re including these nutrients can help make the job of managing your depression symptoms a little easier. Here are some of my favourite depression meals for those nights when nothing else seems to be helping but you’ve still got a house of little humans to feed.

Charcuterie 

If you were a kid in the 90s, you probably grew up having Lunchables for lunch during the week. They were quick, easy and had most of the nutrients a growing kid might need to get through the day — if you were content to subsist on crackers, deli meat and sometimes cheese. Okay, so they weren’t the healthiest option, but if you make them fancy, put them on a plank of wood and call them charcuterie, they’re one of my favourite depression meals. 

The nice thing about charcuterie is that there is no wrong way to do it.  Pick your favourite meats, crackers, dips, fruits and veggies, and arrange them on a plate or tray.  Then pick and choose what you want to eat. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to make sure that everyone is getting fed when all you have the energy to do is assemble things on a plate.

Fish

Fish might seem like a lot of hassle, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s also a great option for depression meals because it tends to be high in magnesium which is another nutrient that can help with managing depression symptoms. 

This simple sheet pan haddock bake is a great way to get your nutrients without making a  big mess in the kitchen.   It’s 5 ingredients — haddock, crackers, butter, garlic salt and lemon — and five steps — and one of those steps is preheating the oven and I’m not even sure that counts. If you’re not a fan of haddock, swap it out for your favourite fish. 

Stir Fry

Stir fry is easily one of my favorite meals.  It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s fast, and you can make it with whatever you have in the kitchen.  Start by picking your protein. Then, pick your stir fry veggies — these can be fresh, canned or frozen. Fry them up in the oil of your choice, top with your sauce, and serve over rice. 

The key to a good stir fry, regardless of your chosen ingredients, is the sauce.  My go-to stir fry sauce only requires a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen.: 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar.

Mix and pour, and you’ve got the tastiest stir fry sauce this side of your favourite Chinese restaurant. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly (Jam)

It sounds basic, but that’s because it is.  Peanut butter — and other nut butters, if you have a peanut allergy in the house — are full of healthy proteins and other nutrients that will help you feel full longer.  Pair it with some natural fruit preserves and your favourite whole wheat or multigrain bread and you’ve got a halfway healthy meal that takes almost no time or effort to prepare. 

You can always spice up your PB&J if you have more spoons.  If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth you can add sliced bananas, honey, or even marshmallow fluff.  The possibilities are endless. 

Be Kind To Yourself

As long as you’re eating, it doesn’t really matter what you eat for dinner — but making healthier choices can help to make you feel better in the long run.  Try a couple of my favourite depression meals and see if they make it into your regular meal schedule.

Above all else, be kind to yourself. 


This article was written by Kara Reynolds, editor at Momish.

Identifying the Source of your Eating Disorder and Finding Recovery by Anita Ginsburg

(image: Mindful Eats Nutrition Counselling)

Few of us follow a healthy eating plan all the time. While you should try your best to keep a healthy diet, due to mental ill health and/or life trauma, some people go on to develop eating disorders as a result (such as anorexia and bulimia). 

There are a wide range of eating disorders that sprout from a wide range of mental, emotional, and environmental issues. If you have an eating disorder, it is important to get to the root of the psychological aspect and take steps to move towards recovery.

Here are some things you can do.

Keep a Journal

You may have already tried using a food journal to track everything you eat, your calories, your macros, your weight, your water intake, exercise, or any combination of the above. Unfortunately, many people feel that this type of journal causes them to obsess over what they’re eating. This can actually be detrimental to recovery unless carefully supervised by a doctor or therapist. 

However, journalling can still be helpful. Instead of focusing on calories or other factors in your food, take a look at yourself and how you feel about your food instead. For example, you might notice trends in your eating habits. Are there some foods or meals you’re avoiding altogether? Why? You can write about how you felt before, during, and after eating. This could include how you felt physically—hunger, pain—or emotionally. Finally, you might notice certain triggers that affect your eating habits.

With this information, you can get a good idea of whats going on, what might be causing the disorder, and what to do to help your mental health. Your journal should feel safe and supportive in your journey towards good health again.

Avoid parts of food journalling that make you feel unsafe. You may need to talk with your therapist to find a good balance.

Consult a Therapist

As mentioned above, a therapist can be very helpful in helping you provide insight and guidance in overcoming your eating disorder. If you can, try to find a therapist who specialises in eating disorders. They can help you identify emotional or environmental issues that may be triggering your eating disorder. Additionally, they will likely be able to recommend certain steps to help you break unhealthy eating habits. Not every tip or idea will work for everyone, so you and your therapist will have to work together to identify what works for you, what doesn’t, and what is counter-productive.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you don’t already know what category your eating disorder falls under, your doctor may be able to advise you. They will look at factors like your medical history, family history, and associated factors. The doctor might recommend certain types of testing or procedures to learn more about your eating habits- including blood tests and your BMI. They may also recommend certain diet changes or plans to help you reach healthier eating habits and improve your mental wellbeing.

Explore Treatment Options

As you learn more about your situation, you can look into possible treatment options for eating disorders that could help you to deal with and overcome the problem. Nutritional guidance, weight management programs, and support groups are common ways of helping people to recovery.

Eating disorders can cause many difficulties especially when you are feeling low or your mental health is declining. That is why its so important to find out the source of your eating disorder so it can be effectively treated and overcome. Learn all you can, consult professionals, and if it is available for you, join an eating disorder treatment program to achieve your goals back to health.

This article was written by freelance writer Anita Ginsburg

How to find a way forward and heal when you have an Eating Disorder: Guest blog by Lizzie Weakley

eating1

(image: Unsplash.com)

Overcoming and managing an eating disorder is often a challenging process. It requires a lot of self-motivation and determination, as well as a healthy and robust support network. However, it will be worth it in the end because you will be able to heal yourself and move forward. Many people may not know where to start when it comes to moving on, but there are many general tips that will apply to most situations. For example, it can be helpful to create new and healthy habits, maintain a positive mindset, and plan for a better future.

Creating New Habits

Many people find it helpful to create new habits after recovering. You should recognise what your triggers are and try to avoid them or learn new coping mechanisms. You might also want to learn more about proper nutrition and how to properly care for your body.

Often, eating disorders can cause negative health effects, and it can be beneficial to adopt a better lifestyle in order to safeguard your future health. You might want to look into working with a nutritionist who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Also, if you feel yourself losing control at any point, you should speak with your doctor right away and potentially consider inpatient eating disorder treatment before things get out of hand.

Maintaining a Positive Mindset

Many people with eating disorders may think negatively about themselves. It is important to avoid this so that you don’t relapse. Instead of dwelling on things you don’t like, if you are able, you might want to focus on your positive attributes. For example, if you enjoy helping others, you might want to consider doing volunteer work. Working with the elderly, under-privileged, and animals can be an excellent way to show you that you have self-worth and purpose, and you will be making a huge difference in the world.

If you are struggling with your mindset and are too unwell to do this, thats OK. Look after yourself and see your medical team.

 

Planning a Better Future

It can be easy to sometimes get caught up in the past and eating disorder thought patterns. However, you might find it helpful to focus more on the present and the future than the past. You could think about all the things you would like to experience and achieve and make a list of attainable goals. Investing in yourself and your future will give you something to look forward to and will motivate you to push forward.

Also, creating a better life for yourself can help to protect you from relapsing because you won’t want to throw away everything you have worked so hard for.

Overall, moving past an eating disorder can take some time. It is important to be kind to yourself and optimistic. Taking the aforementioned tips into consideration and working with professionals, such as a psychiatrist, therapist and nutritionist can help you along the way. They can provide you with beneficial insight that you need to succeed and can help to ensure you are making positive decisions.

 

This guest post was written by freelance writer Lizzie Weakley,

 

Loving Yourself: 4 Tips for Living a Body Positive Life: Guest blog by Emma Sturgis

bodypos

(image: Emma Sturgis)

Starting to live a body-positive life all begins with you, the individual. It can be challenging with so much pressure from society trying to dictate our lives. It becomes easier when you block out all negative forces and decide to start loving yourself and your body no matter what others have to say.

Loving yourself no matter what will increase your happiness and your overall peace in life. Here are four tips to help you down the body-positive life and feel total peace of mind about your body and physical appearance.

Work on Self-love

A significant number of girls have been through the trauma associated with body shaming, especially in high school. Some have taken the weight of the shame to our adult life where we lose our confidence and tend not to love ourselves as we should.

Many women and girls suffer from poor body image for years, or even through their entire life. The first step into living a body-positive life is by loving yourself first. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and no one is perfect. You just have to own your flaws and flaunt your strengths.

This can often be easier said than done, especially with years of social conditioning. You can achieve self-love through daily practices that make you feel your best physically and emotionally. Tell yourself every day that you appreciate your body and all it does for you.

Eat Instinctively and Respectfully

You don’t have to starve yourself to fit into that wedding dress within an unrealistic time-frame. Diets don’t work and neither does overfeeding any time you are stressed, sad or angry. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what your body desires to look great.

If you feel that you are struggling to keep an eating routine and your mental health is worsening, accept the problem and seek inpatient eating disorder treatment. under a psychiatry team or your local doctor.  

 

Change Your Perspective on Exercising

Most of us quit taking exercise and going to the gym because we hate working out. Exercise can be fun when we redirect the focus from it being a weight loss challenge to treating your body correctly and healthily.

You don’t have to attach any pressure or targets to your daily workout routines. Do exercises that are fun to you and even make it a social event with your friends. Once you start viewing exercise as healthy for your body , you will begin to love it. You will enjoy exercising because of how it makes you feel, endorphins from it will make us feel happy. You may even feel proud after a work out!

 

Pamper Your Body

After all the stress and pressure that your body endures, it deserves to be pampered and treated right. Get some good fitting outfits, wear the best lotions, go for therapeutic massages and take frequent hot tub baths. Fall in love with every curve while you look straight into the mirror.

This will allow you to connect with your body instead of feeling detached and negative toward it. You can make these things part of each day. Carve out some time from your busy schedule to pamper yourself, even if it includes simply putting on your favorite perfume. It will give you a simple confidence boost to carry through your day. Always take time for yourself and don’t let your daily tasks take priority over caring for your physical and mental health.

Once you change your mindset, the journey to living a body-positive life will be so much easier. You don’t have to lose 20 pounds to start loving yourself and your body. You are much more than your physical body.

Knowing your worth is a gift to yourself and your body. Eventually, it helps you rediscover your true self. You will be able to go forward in the world with confidence and give your amazing gifts and what you have to offer, to the universe.

This blog was written by freelance writer Emma Sturgis from the USA 

Dementia and Brain Health Decline: Can the MIND Diet help?: Guest blog by Eve Crabtree

nourish1

(image: Spotebi)

With more and more people each day taking steps to combat, prevent and manage their mental health, being as healthy as possible, both mentally and physically, is something that’s important to us.

That’s one of the reasons that many people are turning to the MIND diet to maintain brain function and prevent brain health decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

MIND Diet: What is it?

The MIND diet, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was created by researchers from a variety of universities in 2015. It aims to reduce the chance of developing dementia and a decline in brain health that is often associated with older age.

Elements of the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) were combined to create the MIND diet. The reason these two diets were chosen above others is because both have been scientifically proven to have significant health benefits.

What was the aim of the study?

The MIND diet, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was created by researchers from a variety of universities in 2015. It aims to reduce the chance of developing dementia and a decline in brain health that is often associated with older age.

The study involved over 600 participants and took 3 years to complete. The participants, all of different ages, builds, heights and weights, were asked to follow the diet for the full 3 years whilst data was collected by the team of researchers.

Upon completion, it was immediately found that following the diet had a positive impact on the mental health and physical health of the participants.

One study found that of 923 older people that partook, those that followed the MIND diet closely had a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those that only followed it loosely.

Additionally, even those that only moderately followed the plan cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by an average of 35%.

What foods are encouraged on the MIND diet?

The MIND diet encourages followers to consume 10 main foods that make up the majority of their food intake each week. These foods are:

  • Fish
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Other vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Poultry
  • Olive oil
  • Berries
  • Wine
  • Beans
  • Whole grains

These foods have been recommended because they are low in saturated fat but high in good fats, protein, fibre and vitamins. Eating a varied selection of them each day provides your body and brain with everything it needs to be healthy.

What foods should be limited on the MIND diet?

Along with all other diets, the MIND diet recommends that followers consume a restricted amount of processed foods. This includes:

  • Red meat
  • Cheese
  • Butter and margarine
  • Sweet treats
  • Fried food

Researchers encourage limiting intake of these foods because they are high in trans and saturated fat – both of which have been linked to numerous diseases including Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

What are the benefits of following the MIND diet?

Along with slowing brain health decline and minimising the risk of getting dementia, the MIND diet has also shown to benefit physical health and wellbeing, reduce harmful meta-amyloid proteins, and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

 

  • Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress is caused by unstable molecules, known as free radicals, accumulate in large amounts in the body and cause damage to cells.

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to infection or injury. Although beneficial in small doses, if inflammation isn’t regulated correctly, it can become harmful.

The vitamin E in many of the foods in the MIND diet benefits brain function by protecting it from oxidative stress. Furthermore, omega 3 fatty acids in fish are known to lower brain inflammation and reduce loss of brain function.

 

  • Harmful Beta-Amyloid Proteins

Scientists have previously suggested that plaques, build ups of beta-amyloid proteins, are one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques collect in the brain and disrupt signals between brain cells, eventually leading to brain death.

Trans and saturated fats can increase beta-amyloid proteins in the brain which is why the MIND diet recommends limiting these foods.  

The bottom line

Several previous studies have been carried out that have shown the impact of eating healthily on mental health and wellbeing as a whole. Not only has a healthy diet and regular exercise proved to improve brain function, reduce stress, and improve memory, it also has a positive effect on the body eg weight.

Due to the fact the MIND diet involves eating a variety of good fats and nutrient rich foods, we can hope that it will improve general mental health and brain function as well as reducing brain health decline and combating dementia.

However, this is purely based on opinion and the results of this particular study: further research is yet to be carried out to analyse the extent of the impact the MIND diet really has on the brain.

The brain is complex and we await the results of more research over the coming years.

Eve Crabtree is a writer and health expert.