by Linn Thorstensson | Nov 6, 2016 | blog, healing, healthy living, Lifestyle, mindful eating
Food + Love. I was recently reminded of the healing power of having a meal made and shared with love.
You know, the truly nourishing experience that it is, when you allow yourself to be fully present and engage all your senses in the eating experience. It becomes not just about the food, but the company, the conversations and the surroundings as well.
To me it is such a blessing to be having food and sharing the eating experience with people who not only appreciate the food for its taste and quality, but also from where it has come. The appreciation of beauty, that is fresh colourful ingredients and the gift itself that is in giving, and the blessing that is in receiving.
It had me humbled and reminded that what an lesson in receiving it is to be gifted in this way.
THIS is when food and eating is not all about nutritional value but rather all about Vitamin P – P for Pleasure.
The meal was such a fulfilling experience on every level. A simple reminder of the little things in life to savour, both literally and symbolically.
We may consider LOVE as the ultimate nourishment for our whole selves, and food, of course, is the fuel for our physical existence. Alongside air and water food is something we cannot survive without.
However the dynamic dance between food and love is not always as straightforward as this, though I would like to think it should be, or perhaps at least could be. Though if you have ever struggled with this intricate dyamic, you know…
There is a shadow side of Food + Love.
Sometimes we use food not as a part of a loving experience but rather as a substitute for love.
Like those moments when we use food as the “fix” to sooth a broken heart, a bruised ego or a just as a way to fill the void in our lives?
Somehow this message that food is comfort is reinforced when you start paying attention to what the media is portraying. I’m sure you have seen, just like I have, the images of someone drowning their sorrows with a spoon and a tub of ice cream in front of the telly. I mean, it is a natural thing as the most fundamental part of nurturing a baby is given the breast as both food and comfort.
Thing is though, that when we use food to numb our feelings (or any other substance for that matter), and / or as a way to fill up an internal hole which is not a physical hunger, it may give some short term relief but usually not as a longterm one.
Using food as a substitute for love can have longterm consequences. And not always are these longterm consequences about health impacts either, though it can be a factor that plays a part.
The more immediate consequneces that I am thinking of here is what usually follows eating certain kinds of foods that we may have assigned the label “bad” to; feelings of guilt and shame.
Brené Brown defines guilt as “I did something bad / wrong” and shame as “I am bad / there’s something wrong with me“. Look at this definition, we may realise how counterproductive it is to attach feelings of guilt to what we are eating, and if we go down the shame route, we are all of a sudden skating on thin ice…
How did we get here?? When did we end up with this kind of thought pattern?
This is where I feel opening up some awareness around the subtle messages the dieting culture is imposing on us, becomes very important. That if we don’t eat “clean” we must be eating something that’s “dirty” or bad.
I’ve lost count of how many times in my 20s that I was so entrenched in this kind of thinking. Often feeling disheartened that I could never stick to THE plan, or lose the weight I wanted (so I could finally be happy), when in fact trying to rely on willpower with my blood sugar on a roller coaster all day would make it physically (and mentally!) impossible.
After that one cookie, I’d usually end up having another one and then most of the package because at that point I had moved from feeling guilty about having one into a state of shame.“I’m useless so I may as well keep eating…”
Then I felt even more lonely and sad… Which would continue the cycle of comfort eating. And other times it was the feelings of loneliness that would be the initial trigger. During this time in my life, food was definitely serving as a replacement for love, for me.
Is it possible to break the cycle of using food as substitute for love and arrive at a place where food becomes part of self-love?
I would really like to think so! It may not be an overnight kind of experience, and the journey there may not just be paved with good intention but can also become littered with many blessings of self discovery.
With Halloween just been and the next holiday season only a short while away, it is all to easy to get caught up in “dieting mode”. Restricting and / or feeling guilty about having certain types of foods.
However if you have decided to try stepping off the “dieting treadmill” and are working on healing your relationship with food, then I invite you to be mindful and watch your thoughts with kind non-judging awareness.
Do find yourself feeling guilty after eating sweets / cakes / chocolate?
Do you feel like you need to go on a diet over the next few weeks to get ready for the holiday season ahead, knowing that you may put on some extra few pounds then?
Here’s my ‘two penny’s worth; Please don’t.
Instead of focusing on letting go of certain kinds of foods, focus on letting go of the guilt, so that you don’t let any guilt feed into shame.
Learn to listen to your body and trust it’s wisdom.
What foods make you feel great? What would it look like for you if food and eating formed part of caring for yourself from a place of kindness and selfcare?
Don’t forget that there’s more to food than calories and sugar. And there’s more to eating that worrying about same.
Give yourself permission to;
Let your whole self be nourished by the entire experience of eating food that has been grown with care and cooked with love, and if possible in the pleasure of great company.
THAT is medicine for body, mind and soul. <3
Do you long to let go of obsession around food, eating and weight? Would you like to feel freedom and peace around meals and beyond, but need some help and support to get there?
It would be an honour to walk with you on this path. Please email me HERE to set up a free 30 min consultation to explore how this may be possible for you too.
by Linn Thorstensson | May 8, 2016 | Aspect of Health, Aspect of Self, blog, Food & Spirit
It’s time to dive into the LOVE Aspect of Self, and the Seven Systems of Health™! And perhaps this is the perfect time to do so with May Day, Beltane and Valborg (as it is called in Sweden), all celebrations to mark the beginning of Summer, having just been.
May is one of those beautiful transition months with a special light and feeling of true renewal. And when everything is bursting into bloom, expansive and GREEN. Summer is not yet here but Spring is out full force. Just like LOVE.
Most of us think about romantic love when we hear the word LOVE. That thrilling, exhilarating feeling that can be totally all consuming. But LOVE is so much more that that. It is truly the glue that holds everything together. When we talk about the LOVE Aspect in the Seven Systems of Health™, we talk about service, compassion and even passion. And not just towards others but for ourselves as well.
The Heart is the organ connected to the LOVE Aspect. It really couldn’t be anything else could it! The other body parts connected to this Aspect is areas connected to the heart in some way, by direct function or by area of location. Arms and hands. Both body parts which we use to offer loving embrace and connection to each other.
The Lungs and blood vessels as well as Lymphatic System belongs to this Aspect. All part of circulation and oxygenation, bringing the nutrients absorbed from the small intestine into the blood stream and filtered through the liver to the rest of the body. So that it can get the nourishment it needs.
But what about all the more “non tangible” parts of this Aspect? Like service and compassion.
In the past few months, I have been on what feels like a book bingeing mission. Blended with some self exploration. It has been really healing I have to say.
A. Because I’m so curious and I love learning.
B. Because I believe that if you are on a mission to help others then a must in this process is to learn more about yourself, so you can be of service in the best way possible. Somehow it seems much easier to relate to others’ struggles when we can see and feel our shared common humanity. It becomes much easier to relate and to have empathy. To say “me too”.
So let’s talk about service.
We give and take care of others as a way of being of service. It feels nice to be nice. But here’s the catch. How we give, plays a big role in how we’ll end up feeling.
What place is our giving coming from?
If we give selflessly and endlessly without boundaries, chances are that we will either be taken advantage of, or end up being burnt out. Or maybe both. And then resentment festers and grows… It may even feel painful. Not nice.
If we give from a place of always expecting something in return, then we are also setting ourselves up for resentment. Why? Because people may, or may not return the favour. And when they don’t, we end up feeling disappointed. Because we assumed or expected that they somehow would or should.
And if we do things for others just to “keep the peace” or to keep them happy, whilst compromising on our own integrity we are operating from a “people pleasing place”. Which can also lead to… Yes you guessed it! Resentment and burn out.
Then there’s the other side of giving – receiving. Oh boy it that a hard one!
For me this receiving bit is certainly something I have been struggling with. And I’m guessing (I hope!) I’m not alone in that either… It takes vulnerability and courage to ask for help, and to let someone in. Especially if / when we are so used to doing it all ourselves.
Look at it like this though, if your bank account it full of out goings but there’s never any money coming in, eventually you’ll end up with no funds. Which mean you’ll simply have nothing more to give…Whether it is money or energy.
If we are burnt to a crisp, full of resentment and self-loath, as an aftermath of struggling with people pleasing and perfectionism, then we certainly have nothing to give to others, regardless if we want to or not.
We cannot give from an empty cup. And sometimes we need to allow someone else but ourselves, to step in and to fill it up.
A few years ago, after having had my life running on high speed for months, I realised that if I did not make some kind of change, my health would suffer. So I went and booked myself into a silent (yes, silent!) Vipassana retreat.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to talk… And my friends where all like “Linn how will you manage being silent for five days??!!”. Turns out that being silent wasn’t the hardest part for me. The greatest challenge at the time was actually learning how sit with boredom. But that’s a story for another day!
As a complete meditation novice, sitting still and trying to observe my thoughts was so difficult and trying. We practiced a few types of meditaion over the course of the retreat, both formal Vipassana (insight) meditation, walking meditation and another form of Buddhist meditation called Metta or Loving-Kindness meditation.
The experience of practicing loving-kindness meditation left me with a tool to practice more compassion. A way of open my heart, both towards myself and towards others. Because even if we are struggling to wish ourselves well, when we extend the intention to ALL Beings, that includes us as well.
Also to me, with my busy mind, having a mantra of some kind made it a little easier to stay focused. I love this kind of mediation so much and I want to share the benefits with all of you here! So when I was preparing to write this post I invited someone with more experience and expertise in this area than me.
Please say hello to my guest contributor – Lyndsey Burton!
Lyndsey Burton is a Holistic Therapist, Coach and Mindfulness Teacher. She helps people reduce stress, calm the chatty mind and heal on mind, body and soul level so that they can enjoy the journey we call life.
Lyndsey will give us the reasons of why we should introduce some loving-kindness mediation practice into our lives, so that we can support and nourish our LOVE Aspect.
3 Benefits of the Loving Kindness Meditation
Most of our powerful thoughts and emotions can be described in two words, Love or Fear. Now, I’m not talking about the mundane day to day thoughts and emotions that help us get jobs done, I’m talking about the ones that can lift us up or knock us off our feet when we are least expecting it.
Sometimes all it takes is an unintentional negative comment from someone and our critical self-talk and emotions take front stage.
This is where the Loving Kindness Meditation can really help.
Basically the Loving Kindness Meditation (or Metta as it was originally named) is a practice to help us become more caring, loving and compassionate towards ourselves, others and all living things. It is a way to connect to love and shine a light on fear. It is the practice of the heart and we are planting tiny seeds of loving-kindness, that in time will grow into something more beautiful than you would ever be able to imagine.
If you like the sound of becoming a nicer, happier, kinder, more compassionate person then read on my friend.
(Ed. note; And who wouldn’t?)
How can this practice help you I hear you say? Well to be honest there are hundreds of ways and the list is never ending, however it can all be stripped down to that one word LOVE. But to give you some clarity around the practice, I will share with you three benefits that I feel (from my own experience and that of many of my clients) have helped us all get on the path to compassion.
1. It will help you become more MINDFUL of your inner reactions to the outer world
Yes people will do and say things that piss you off. Someone might pull out on you on the motorway. You may not get the coffee you asked for and your kids may not give a damn that you have changed all your plans to taxi them around the country (the latter is common in our house).
However if you spend as little a 5 or 10 minutes a day for a couple of weeks, these outside occurrences tend not to upset your inner world as much. This means you will learn to respond to life rather than walk around reacting to everything. All of this = A nicer you!
2. It increases your positive vibe
The meditation is all about spending a little time wishing yourself and others well. This in turn helps you to see that we all just want to be happy, which increases your ability to feel more positive about life. You can feel a greater sense of life purpose and meaning in what would normally seem like mundane daily events.
3. It decreases stress
We all suffer from stress in our daily life. Some stress is good. However if we experience high levels of stress over a long period of time it can become detrimental to our health and wellbeing. By practicing the loving-kindness meditation we can step into the realm of forgiveness. We forgive others from the past, like the idiot that cut us up on the motorway and the kids for ruining our social lives.
The main person I had to learn to forgive in my loving-kindness practice was me (but thats’ a whole other blog). If there are less people out there to rock our inner boat, there is less to stress about. I share with my students that forgiveness through compassion is nothing to do with the person who has hurt us as they have their own karma. It IS about letting go of the fear, anger, hurt, sadness or whatever we have carried around in our beautiful bodies.
So, there are just a few reasons to give the Loving Kindness Meditation a bash. I would gently guide you towards practicing it for 30 days so you can let it permeate your cells.
Thanks Lyndsey for these words of wisdom and benefits of loving-kindness meditation.
If you want to know more about all the beautiful work Lyndsey do, head over and check out her website.
So apart from bringing some loving-kindness mediation practice into our daily lives, what else can we do to nourish our LOVE Aspect?
1. Food – There is no escaping vegetables! Green ones of course, which will give us important minerals like magnesium but all kinds of vegetables have important effect on our health and wellbeing. And it’s not just the vitamins, minerals and fiber that they contain, it is also all the hundreds of plant specific compounds, phytonutrients, that they contain which plays a roll in heart health, immune function and feeding our friendly gut bacteria. If you are not in love with vegetables already, then it’s about time you start courting that relationship! They are truly your best friends when it comes to health.
2. Eating – To be perfectly honest here, this is one of my personal missions… To support people to start making food (and lifestyle) choices out of care and compassion for themselves. I believe that if we are making choices from this place, rather than from external influences, our choices may be different and that there would be less struggle with between body-mind-plate.
What food choices would you be making if you where using this approach? Would it differ from what you are doing now?
3. Lifestyle – Movement / exercise falls under the LOVE Aspect too. Our heart is a muscle and like all our other muscles it needs exercise to strengthen. And so does our lungs. My one (well two…) tips when it comes to exercise is; keep it varied. Mix up strength training ( weights, yoga, Pilates) with some more cardio based types (walking, running, cycling, swimming, hiking, dancing) so that you get an all round experience and let all of your body work.
And make sure that you choose exercise that is FUN whilst you are at it. It makes it much easier to return to the next session even if you feel stiff and sore the next day(s).
by Linn Thorstensson | Feb 13, 2015 | Dairy free, Gluten free, Healthy Treats, Paleo, snack, Vegan
Valentine’s is upon us again. I never got a chance to write a Valentine’s post last year due to some incredibly stormy weather and subsequent power cuts, which lasted for days, so I’m going to have a stab at it this year instead.
I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about this whole conundrum… On the one hand I think it’s a nice idea with a day prompting you to do something extra nice for that one special person in your life. On the other hand I feel it has become such a big commercial hype, it has lost any appeal or value. And shouldn’t we take time daily to show our love and appreciation for those in our lives that matters anyway? On any given day? Oh and the whole thing (i.e commercial hype around this ONE day) can easily make anyone who happens to be single feel totally inadequate, sad and even like there’s something wrong with them because they happen to NOT be in a relati0nship at this time. To ME that sends out an entirely wrong message.
A good few years ago (five to be precise), I was dating an absolutely gorgeous guy, beautiful to the core. He wasn’t a great guy for presents or cards or anything at Valentine’s, yet during the short time we had together he gave me one of the greatest gifts of all. He gave me the amazing gift of allowing me to be completely and utterly myself. Even though, I would considered of myself to show up as me and to go my own way (most of the time at least), he allowed me to do that in our relationship too.
I was able to be true and authentic to who I am because I felt safe, loved and trusted that it was going to be Ok to be vulnerable and show sides of myself which I might have been reluctant to show for fear of being rejected or judged. (Like we all tend to do, especially when we don’t know someone all that well) It was a blessed gift to get and I’m grateful to now hold that experience in my heart.
It’s made me think though, that in today’s world, with all the talk of Authenticity and being true to ourselves so we can live our lives fully, yet the never ending snap shots we see of other peoples’ lives through social media and the “compariso-nitis it brings; we need to do two things:
1. Love ourselves with compassion and unconditional whole-heartedness. And if we don’t already do so we need to keep working at it. For if we can’t love ourselves for all that we are (and are not) then how can we let someone else in? Creating a space for self-love and a feeling of self-worth hold the key to opening so many doors.
2. Allow or hold a space for others to be authentic to who THEY are. Allow them to feel loved and safe enough to be vulnerable without being judged. Perhaps this is what’s called unconditional love…?
Maybe Brené Brown puts it better in her TED Talk. I don’t know, but I do think she’s on to something, after a decade of research into it.
It’s all to easy to try to change others, whether they are partners, friends, work mates or family members. If we DO care about them, then giving them the gift of allowing them to BE who they truly are (as opposed to who we would like them to be) is probably the most amazing gift we can ever give. And you know, this is actually easy enough to do. Being present and truly listen to someone is so rare these days, so by giving your full attention to a conversation with someone dear, you can simply make that person shine in their own right. Somehow we are often aware of those people who are naturally good listeners because they tend to make us feel good when we are around them. Thing is, we may not be aware that it’s their listening skill which is what sets them apart. Beauty is though, we can all learn or improve this skill. We simply need to practice active listening a little more.
I’m just going to throw in a caveat here; if you discover that you are trying to change someone because you don’t like who they truly are… Then set them AND yourself free. No need to be hanging around people who doesn’t bring out the best in you. And if cutting ties is not an option, then at least limit the time you spend with them…
Self-love. Something so incredibly important but so incredibly hard. The definition of the word is: care and regards for ones own happiness and well being. Can someone wise out there tell me WHY we don’t see attending to this very need, as important as it actually is? And please don’t get self-love mixed up with arrogance and self importance. Often (in my experience) people who show up with those kinds of traits have the least amount of self-love. Because when you care for and value yourself the need to make others feel inferior is simply not necessary.
Being comfortable in our own skin, being happy and content in our own company and making choices based on self compassion seems to come easier to some than others. I came across this little list of 10 things you can start doing to bring more self-love into your life. Worth a look.
In the name of LOVE I challenge you do so something to this weekend to show yourself how much you care about you. Then share the love far and wide! But start showing yourself some love first.
OK enough of ramblings, I better share this recipe with you too. I went for a floral theme of roses (of course!) as to many of us they are the symbol of love. I happen to like the taste of rose too. But if you don’t, feel free to leave it out. Or substitute with some orange zest and a little freshly squeezed orange juice instead. These little sweet treats may look complicated but they really aren’t. All you need are a couple of ingredients and food processor. So whether you decide to do something nice for yourself this Valentine’s or if you want to treat your lover, you can do it Straightforward Nutrition style! <3
Rose Infused Marzipan Bites
Makes about 15 bites
200g whole almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp dried rose petals – optional
1 tbsp rose water – you can substitute for equal amounts of lemon or orange juice
2-3 tbsp maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness
50g 70 % dark chocolate
some dried rose petals for decoration – optional
a sprinkle of bee pollen, for decoration – optional
Start with grinding the almonds into flour. I usually use a blender for this but you can use your food processor too. Half ways through grinding the nuts add the dried flowers.
Add your ground almonds + flowers, maple syrup, vanilla extract and rose water to a food processor and blend until you have a sticky dough.
Make small balls from the dough and then chill them in the fridge to harden up a little, for an hour or so.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over warm water. Roll each ball in the melted chocolate until well coated. Let them set a little on a lined tray before you sprinkle some rose petals and bee pollen on top to make your treats look extra pretty!
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The marzipan will last, I mean keep… for a few days in the fridge. These treats are vegan (without bee pollen) and gluten and dairy free.