Healthy Byte: “Can’t”

NOTE: It really is all a matter of perspective

Sitting motionless in my kitchen, staring blankly and hopelessly at my pantry, I felt the onset of an anxiety attack.

As a complete and total omnivore (I truly eat all the foods), it was the first time I didn’t know what I was “allowed” to eat — and I was SO hungry. My doctor had just put me on the low FODMAPs diet, which is in my opinion the most confusing, unnavigable, impossible diet on the planet with conflicting information from so many sources. The list of things you can’t eat seemed infinite . . . no peaches, no wheat, no milk, no fruit juice or avocados or honey (there are quite literally hundreds of items). I focused so much on the “no” list that I had zero idea what to eat. I sat there paralyzed (and honestly, starving, with low blood sugar that probably exacerbated this situation). Panic started to creep in.

This made me realize how much we focus on what we can’t do vs. what we can and how much that word “can’t” paralyzes us in so many ways — especially when it comes to diet and exercise.

Have you felt this way with your food? So much anxiety and unnecessary stress stems from this idea of what we can’t do, can’t have, can’t eat. I have watched friends start their new lives as vegans, feeling their frustration of what they can’t eat without focusing on all the good, delicious foods they love that they can eat. Sure, you can’t eat Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese anymore, but you totally can eat that quinoa veggie bowl you love and also that fruit smoothie and that spaghetti dish. By focusing on what we can eat, we liberate ourselves from a crippling list of can’ts.

This also applies to fitness. For years I told myself (and others), “I can’t do that, I’m not an athlete” or “I can’t do that, I’m not fit” or “I can’t run, I’m slow.” So again, I was paralyzed. It was the opposite of empowering; I did no sort of physical activity for years upon years and never attended a yoga class or went to a gym. The second I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t do and focused on what I could — in this case, it was “I can actually move my body forward for several miles at a slow pace without dying” — I opened myself up to an entire world of healthy activity.

The “I can move my body forward” became “I can run a mile” (albeit a very slow one). That became “I can run three miles,” which eventually became “I can run a half marathon.” I stopped focusing on can’ts in other areas and started small with the things I could do — one thing led to another, and now fitness plays a central role in my life.

I needed a reminder of this the other day when I started the low FODMAPs diet. And honestly, I feel like I need a reminder of this in several areas of my life! When we only see what we can’t do, we miss out on so much of what we can, and it gets in the way of our everyday life — we end up shortchanging ourselves.

Don’t get in your own way, and don’t paralyze yourself with your words. Empower yourself! What can you do? What can you eat? What can you try? Go for it!

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

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Healthy Byte: Happiness is Contagious, Be a Carrier

2015 10-8a

Mongolian girl having a hearty laugh with her camel

Depression is not contagious, according to a new study published in the journalProceedings of the Royal Society B. Happiness, however, is more likely to spread between friends, and the results from the study may help remove some of the stigma surrounding depression.

The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people worldwide are currently living with depression. Unfortunately, we haven’t made much progress in lowering that number, even though there are literally entire scientific journals devoted to the subject. Preliminary studies have now shown that social support and friendships may be a major factor in lifting you out of a diagnosed funk. Thanks to a detailed study, we have some of the first empirical evidence that happiness is contagious, and that those who befriend depressed people are not in danger of becoming depressed themselves.

Researchers examined data from over 2,000 teenagers who had reported their network of friendships and answered questions about their levels of happiness as part of an earlier research project. Based on the survey results, the scientists classified each student into either a “low mood” (depressed) category a or “healthy mood” (not depressed) category. Then, they mapped out friendships and ran computer simulations to determine whether happiness and sadness spread between friends like an infectious disease.

The result? Depression is not contagious. Meanwhile, happiness not only spreads—it may prevent (and even help people recover from) depression. The model suggests that teens with five or more happy friends have half the probability of suffering from depression over a six to 12-month period than teens without no “healthy mood” friends. And adolescents with 10 healthy friends have more than double the probability of recovering from depressive symptoms.

“This was a big effect that we have seen here,” said Thomas House, mathematics professor at the University of Manchester and coauthor on the study in a prepared statement. “It could be that having a stronger social network [the real-life version, not Facebook] is an effective way to treat depression.”

Since the study suggests teens are not at risk of “catching” depression from their friends, and having happy friends may prevent and even pull teens out of depression, House and his colleagues stress that it is important to promote any friendship between adolescents. Friendship is a win-win, the study says—it can’t hurt, but it may be both protective and curative.

“If we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example providing youth clubs) each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect,” House said in a prepared statement. “This would reduce the prevalence of depression.”

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig