Mindful mouthfuls – top tips for bringing mindfulness into your mealtimes

Nutrition brought to life - New Products 1

In her new book, Nutrition Brought to Life, nutritional therapist author Kirsten Chick brings to life the science and research behind nutrition.

In this short excerpt,  Kirsten explores how to bring mindfulness into your mealtimes.

Three mindful mouthfuls

Setting the scene:

  • Even if you won’t be doing the cooking, take an active role in deciding what you’re going to eat. To help you make this decision, tune into what your body feels it might want – or not want – to eat today.
  • When it gets nearer to mealtimes, remind yourself of what you’re going to have. Envision it, and get a sense of what it’s going to taste and feel like.
  • Just before you eat, imagine a bubble of calm around you, a space that stretches out timelessly in all directions. Even if – in face especially if – you are surrounded by chaos and noise.

Mindful mouthfuls:

  1. When the food is in front of you, have a good look at it. Enjoy it like a work of art, or a beautiful view.
  2. Lean in and inhale the amazing smell of your meal.
  3. Allow and encourage a deep sense of gratitude and joy. Gratitude has an uncanny way of opening us up to receive things.
  4. Slowly savour the taste and sensations of your first mouthful, the temperature and textures, as you chew through your food thoroughly.
  5. Pause to gather some food onto your spoon or fork, and repeat the process for at least two mouthfuls.

Perfect posture:

Sit up straight as you swallow, and throughout and after your meal. This will help the mechanics of digestion, ensuring the food can travel easily through the plumbing of your digestive system and that the sphincters at each gateway can fully operate.

About Nutrition Brought to Life by Kirsten Chick

This complete guide brings to life the science and research behind nutrition to life. While at the same time providing opportunities to reflect on what you have learned, you can also explore new ways of eating and thinking about food, and new recipes. Rather than imposing rules that may only work for some, this book is designed to help you to find your way, with clear guidance and a myriad of useful tips and support.

Nutrition is not just about what food to put on your plate, but how well you digest, absorb and use it. It’s also about how food makes you feel, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Kirsten takes readers through every step of the process and explains how diet impacts every aspect of your health and well-being.

Price: £20, available from alchimiapublishing.com

British children are suffering with skin problems due to frequent handwashing


With the increased need for handwashing during COVID-19, the British Skin Foundation recently asked 250 parents of young children about the effect this has had on their skin.

The results showed that 56% of children are experiencing some type of skin problem associated with their hands. Further still, 1 in 4 children (24%) are now believed to be suffering from hand eczema due to increased handwashing – a significant rise since before the pandemic, when it was estimated that 1 in 5 children experienced eczema at some stage in their childhood. (BAD, 2020)

In addition, 38% reported dry skin, 17% reported cracked skin and, more alarmingly, 6% are experiencing the distress and pain of bleeding hands.

Dr Paula Beattie, British Skin Foundation spokesperson and dermatologist at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow says, “Keeping hands clean is a key part in the fight against COVID-19. Although it’s concerning to hear of children suffering with skin problems due to frequent handwashing, thankfully this can be alleviated with the regular use of an un-fragranced moisturiser. Encourage your child to get into the routine of moisturising after every hand wash.”

This advice is of course also worth therapists sharing with adult clients, if they indicate during a treatment that they are experiencing skin problems as a result of more frequent handwashing and sanitiser use.

Reference: British Association of Dermatologists. 2020. Atopic Eczema [ONLINE] Available at https://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=69&itemtype=document.



How to search easily on a webpage


As new government guidance is announced and changes are made to the FHT statement on coronavirus (COVID-19), we realise our members are spending a lot more time reading information online. We understand that there can be a lot to look through, so wanted to share one handy tip to easily find a word or phrase on a webpage that relates to your query.

Using a laptop

If you press CTRL+F on your keyboard, a search bar will appear on your browser. Simply type in a key word that relates to your query, hit enter, and your browser will automatically highlight that word within a body of text.

Using a touch screen device

When using a device such as an iPad or mobile, go to safari and enter the URL of the webpage you are looking to visit. Once you are on the page you need, click back on the search bar and type in a key word that relates to your query. At this point you don’t need to hit enter, information will automatically come up below with more detail about your word, popular Google searches relating to your word and words ‘on this webpage’. Click on the final section and your browser will automatically highlight that word for you on the webpage. Please see an example screenshot below.

blog example

Collaborative calls for clear guidance for therapists during local lockdowns


The Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) – of which the FHT is a core member – has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP – as well as to other business ministers, across the UK – asking for the government to provide clear guidelines during local lockdowns.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that over the coming months, it may be necessary for the government to introduce further local restrictions or lockdowns, often at short notice, in order to contain outbreaks of COVID-19.

Where such restrictions are necessary, the FHT and other core members of the IHC have asked the government to provide clear guidance to therapists on what they may or may not do during the period of lockdown. At present, the uncertainty and lack of uniformity means that therapists and other workers providing close contact services do not know what is allowed, especially when measures are brought in at short notice. This could inadvertently result in rules being broken through ambiguity and lack of information.

The IHC has requested that the government clarifies the following points (among others) when local lockdowns are introduced, so that therapists and other close contact workers can readily access clear information through their local council:

  • Whether close contact services are allowed, excluding treatments in the highest risk zone (on or in front of the face)*
  • Whether close contact service are allowed, including treatments in the highest risk zone (on or in front of the face)*
  • Which contexts close contact services can take place in (for example, salons and clinics, in the clients’ home, in dedicated rooms/spaces within the practitioners own home)
  • If those providing close contact services can travel to points outside the lockdown area for work purposes.

The FHT believes that this information, which local councils could update as appropriate, would provide much needed clarity to help workers in the therapy sector adhere to any restrictions and contribute towards the effectiveness of local lockdowns.

*If otherwise permitted by government. Currently, treatments in the highest risk zone are not allowed in England before 15 August, at the earliest. For more information, see www.fht.org.uk/coronavirus 

Reflexology reduces anxiety and improves quality of sleep in informal carers


Family and friends are very often the primary caregivers for patients with cancer, despite not being paid or having any formal training, and can commonly experience sadness, anxiety, fatigue and sleep disorders (Toygar et al, 2020).

A recent randomized controlled trial carried out in an oncology unit of a university hospital evaluated the short-term effect of foot reflexology on sleep and anxiety in 66 informal caregivers. The subjects were randomly allocated to either an intervention (reflexology) group or control (placebo) group.

The caregivers in both groups had their feet bathed and wrapped in towels before their 30-minute treatment sessions, which were carried out on three consequent days after the patient was hospitalised. The reflexology group had a warm-up and cool-down applied before and after treatment (including cycling, treadmill, stretching exercises), with the treatment itself focusing on the deep stimulation of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, brain, pineal and solar plexus reflex points on both feet, with the aim of reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. Those in the placebo group had the surfaces of both feet rubbed without any deep stimulation. Sleep and anxiety measures were taken at baseline and one day after the last session in the hospital.

The results of the study showed that foot reflexology had a large effect on anxiety and medium effect on sleep. The authors concluded that ‘foot reflexology was found as an effective intervention to reduce anxiety and improve the quality of sleep of informal cancer caregivers. The effect of placebo on reducing the anxiety of informal caregivers was found, but it wasn’t as effective as reflexology.

Read the full study here.

Eight steps to fully immerse yourself in forest bathing


Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that literally translates as forest bathing. It refers to immersing oneself in a forest and deeply connecting with this natural environment through the senses. 

Forest bathing does require more purpose than simply stepping into a forest, however. Learn more about this mindful activity in an article by Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser from Universe Mindfulness in our latest issue of International Therapist magazine (Summer 2020, Issue 133) – read the full article here.

Want to try it forest bathing for yourself? You can find your nearest forest on Forestry England’s website (www.forestryengland.uk), as well as the following beginner tips on forest bathing:

  1. Turn off your devices to give yourself the best chance of relaxing, being mindful and enjoying a sensory forest-based experience.
  2. Slow down. Move through the forest slowly so you can see and feel more.
  3. Take long breaths deep into the abdomen. Extending the exhalation of air to twice the length of the inhalation sends a message to the body that it can relax.
  4. Stop, stand or sit, smell what’s around you, what can you smell?
  5. Take in your surroundings using all of your senses. How does the forest environment make you feel? Be observant, look at nature’s small details.
  6. Sit quietly using mindful observation; try to avoid thinking about your to-do list or issues related to daily life. You might be surprised by the number of wild forest inhabitants you see using this process.
  7. Keep your eyes open. The colours of nature are soothing, and studies have shown that people relax best while seeing greens and blues.
  8. Stay as long as you can. Start with a comfortable time limit and build up to the recommended two hours for a complete forest bathing experience.

Altruistic August – this month’s Action for Happiness calendar


Every month, Action for Happiness produces a calendar packed with daily actions we can take to increase our own happiness and that of others around us.

This August, the charity’s calendar focuses on daily activities to help us show selfless concern for the wellbeing of others.

The calendar begins with a quote about kindness, ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Every act of kindness makes a difference.’

The calendar is free to download as a PDF or image file (JPEG) in 16 different languages. You can also download the actions straight to your calendar using a Google Calendar or iCalendar file.

Download the August 2020 Action for Happiness calendar

Top tips for meditation and mindfulness


Finding yourself struggling to meditate or implement mindfulness strategies? In Dr Chatterjee’s 115th podcast of his series, he speaks to a handful of experts for some top tips for calming the mind and how to teach the brain to switch off.

  • Research the science

If you haven’t tried mindfulness before and have pre-conceptions about it, take the time to research the science before jumping in. Understanding the benefits and going in with a positive mindset can help to better embrace the practice.

  • Treat your mind as an ally of meditation

Often, people will get annoyed with their brain if thoughts pop up while trying to meditate. Embrace the thoughts that go through your mind, rather than focusing on dismissing them.

  • Centre yourself first thing in the morning

Take the time to centre yourself before you meditate, a good way to do this is to go outside and broaden your awareness or to take the time to be aware of your breath.

  • Make it a daily practice

A lot of people will try to meditate once a week for a longer period. The experts on this podcast advise that the best practice is to build ten minutes into your day and to make mindfulness a part of your routine.

Listen to Dr Chatterjee’s podcast, ‘Meditation and Mindfulness Made Easy: The Very Best Tips’.

Two million enrol on Yale happiness course


Professors at Yale University have seen enrolment figures in their free online ‘Science of Wellbeing’ rise from 539,000 to 2,286,980 since the coronavirus pandemic.  

Taught by psychology professor, Laurie Santos, the 19-hour long course is built to support students to increase their own happiness and make better long-term habits. Course content includes quizzes, videos, lectures and surveys. 

Professor Santos told Yale News, ‘The interest in the class in just the last few days has been incredible and a bit surreal. I think that just as people are focused on evidenced-based ways for staying physically healthy during the coronavirus crisis, so too are people looking for evidence-based ways of improving their mental health.” 

Find out more about the Science of Wellbeing course and sign up at coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being.

Joe Wicks holds final online PE session and donates to NHS charities

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Image source: Instagram @thebodycoach

Fitness expert, Joe Wicks, held his final live PE session and donated £580,000 of the revenue made from advertising to NHS charities.

The 30-minute PE sessions were aimed at keeping children fit over lockdown but proved popular with adults too, with over a million people join in to keep fit with their families.

Over the course of the live sessions, Joe dressed up and provided entertainment as well as fitness for children missing their school PE sessions.

At the end of his final video, Joe hinted at sharing more live sessions in the future. Keep up with the latest from Joe at instagram.com/thebodycoach.