Recent Blog Posts
- Calm Your Anxiety With Deep BreathingJuly 26, 2020The power of the breath has been used for thousands of years by yogis, mystics and spiritual seekers as a way to shift and expand consciousness. By controlling the breath, they control the mind, reaching altered states of awareness and unlocking potentials for relaxation and healing. Yogic traditions believe that improper breathing is connected to disease. This has to do with the flow of life force energy in the body, or prana. If prana isn’t flowing properly, the body and mind suffer. One of the best ways to drive and expand prana is through the breath. When we look at this from a holistic health point of view, we can see that there is indeed a link between habitual improper breathing and dis-ease. Most people go through the day using less than 50% of their breathing capacity with shallow inhales and short exhales. Shallow inhales compromise our circulation and don’t provide a sufficient amount of oxygen, which means that our bodies are lacking fresh, detoxifying energy and our ability to transport and absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals is compromised. Short exhales mean that we aren’t expelling enough carbon dioxide. Although we do need some CO2 for good health, excess CO2 can essentially become a toxin that gets recirculated through our bloodstream and organs. Excess carbon dioxide in the body is also a stressor to the nervous system, which can lead to mental confusion, depression, muscle twitching, anxiety and panic attacks.All of these are results of habitual shallow breathing. When we are breathing efficiently, we get the proper ratios of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.However, In the case of short, quick breathing due to anxiety, we can actually be over-breathing. The trick here is to slow the breath down.Breathing and AnxietyOk, let’s talk anxiety. There are definitely different levels of anxiety. Our daily lives can have us in a heightened state of always having to be ready for the next crazy thing. Sometimes this is manageable, especially when we can implement regular stress reducing practices. But sometimes it can lead to something more serious like a panic attack, especially when issues keep piling up and we don’t take the time to check in on ourselves.If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know how scary it is. When breathing becomes quick and shallow, it can turn into a vicious cycle that creates more of that panicked sensation and more shallow breathing, leaving us feeling less stable and unable to calm down. I’m losing my breath just thinking about it!When we get anxious, there is a tendency to gasp for air, as it can feel like we are lacking oxygen. However, it is actually a lack of carbon dioxide that leads to over-breathing or hyperventilation. With quick, shallow breathing, we exhale more carbon dioxide out than the body has a chance to make.Because the sensation of hyperventilation (lack of carbon dioxide) is nearly identical to the feeling of lacking oxygen, this is where things can get worse. We will try to breathe in more oxygen, but because we don’t need it, our lungs and stomach won’t expand as much, creating more of that feeling that we can’t get enough air. This cycle can continue and begin to cause panic as we keep gasping for more air than we need without recovering our proper carbon dioxide levels.It’s no fun!Hyperventilation exacerbates the situation and can lead to our classic panic attack symptoms:FaintnessRapid heartbeatWeakness and tinglingLightheadedness, dizzinessChest pains and muscle spasmsTrouble thinking and concentrating Let's not forget the feeling of dread and hopelessness. All of these symptoms stress us out more and it can feel never ending. Something to keep in mind is that you are not your anxiety. Anxiety can amplify your emotions and even make you feel and think in ways that you normally wouldn’t if you were calmer. This is part of the havoc that anxiety can wreak on our brains and entire bodies. The good news is, you can access your body’s relaxation response by accessing the parasympathetic nervous system with the breath. Once we are in a more relaxed state, our amplified emotions can quiet down and we think more clearly and discerningly. Suddenly what seemed overwhelming only a moment ago seems manageable and we gain a renewed outlook. How to BreatheIf you have ever had to tell an anxious person to breeeeeathe, or perhaps you were the one who needed the breath, it can sometimes go a little like this…The person will take a big inhale in an upward motion, filling up the chest and pulling air into the upper body, neck and head. Doing this creates muscular tension in those areas and creates a shallow breath that only reaches the upper chest, which aggravates anxiety. Instead, the breath should be drawn into the belly. This helps us to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers physical responses like relaxing the muscles and slowing the heart rate, bringing us into a calmer state.Super Quick Overview of The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous SystemsThe sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are both part of the autonomic nervous system, which constantly sends information to the brain and regulates a variety of body functions that take place without our conscious effort.Sympathetic Nervous System (The Gas Pedal)Prepares us for action Connected to the ‘fight or flight’ responseMainly feeds hormones like adrenaline and cortisolParasympathetic Nervous System (The Brakes)Helps us to relax and slow downConnected to ‘rest and digest’ modeUses neurotransmitters like acetylcholine that decrease blood pressure and heart rate to slow down organ functionDeep Breathing ExerciseAs mentioned above, the gasping associated with anxious breathing has to do with a lack of carbon dioxide being created, so we want to slow down our exhale. Our inhales mirror our exhales. When we breath out slowly, exhaling fully, the body is designed to take a reflex inhale, which will be slower as well. This helps to regulate our breathing by activating that lovely parasympathetic response.Sit or lay somewhere comfortable, placing your hand just above your belly buttonInhale into your belly for a count of 4. Pause at the top of your inhale for a count of 1Exhale gently for a count of 6Pause at the end of your exhale for a count of 1Repeat for a few minutes or until you feel more relaxedKeep your breaths smooth and even. If 4 and 6 counts is too much and stresses you out, try 3 and 5, or less. The important thing is that your exhales are longer than your inhales. You can gradually increase when it feels better.This can be done any time you are feeling anxious to calm your body and mind. The Komuso 'Shift'A Helpful and Beautiful ToolSomething really cool that I have come across lately is the Komuso Shift necklace. It’s a small medallion that looks a little like a whistle, that you wear around your neck. It’s a natural tool to help you cope with stress and anxiety by extending your exhale and improving breathing. The design was inspired by the Komuso Monks of 17th century Japan. They used a bamboo 'shakuhatchi' flute as a healing modality and meditation tool.When we’re in the midst of high anxiety, sometimes it’s not so easy to get control of our own breath. The Shift is a physical reminder to breathe and be in the present moment, as well as a helpful tool to get your breath slowed down. And it only takes about two minutes to work.How Does it Work?Inhale into your belly, hold for a second and then exhale into to the Shift. The shift elongates your exhale, reversing the fight or flight response and triggering your parasympathetic nervous system to physiologically chill you out. Do this for about two minutes or until you start to feel better.It can even psychologically make you feel better just having it around because you know that help is right there when you need it.Get all the information on the Komuso website.Oh, and use the coupon code HolisticTara for 15% off!Happy breathing, loves....
- Hot & Healing Superfood Drinks To Beat The Winter BlahsDecember 28, 2019I am so feeling it. The cold is creeping in. My windows are closed most of the time now, providing less fresh air and more stuffiness. The heater is on as low as possible, just enough to suppress the bite of frost, while trying to avoid the total dry-out of my skin and hair. Muscles and bones are aching a bit more than usual from the shivering and contraction every time I go outside. And then there’s the slump. That heavy, collapsing flump. Where the hell did my energy go? My motivation? My…SOUL…?Ah, the inevitable cold weather blahs. Do you experience it too? I know I feel like a completely different person in the winter than I do in the summer. The summer is all unicorns and sunshine, bare feet in the grass, boho dresses, paddle boards and gorgeous thunder storms that finish with beautiful rainbows, reflecting the colours of my vibrant, activated chakras. (Too far?) Aaah, yes. But when the sun retreats to have its vacation in the south and the weather turns colder, I too retreat inside myself. I need to reach for every resource to maintain a level of happy humanness. Nutrients play a huge part in this. Warm, soothing, superfood drinks are a delicious, healthy and helpful step toward keeping a steady mind, an open heart and a nourished body during the cold months. Feeding our bodies, minds and souls, these tonics provide cozy, healing comfort. Below are recipes for Golden Turmeric Latte, Superfood Hot Chocolate and Green Matcha Spiru-Vanilla Latte.Golden Turmeric LatteThe Turmeric Latte or ‘Golden Milk’ has been held in high esteem for its healing powers for thousands of years. This recipe is like a magic potion, as the combination of spices, fats and heat enhance nutrient absorption and immune boosting properties. Key Ingredients & How They Help The BlahsTurmeric Studies show that turmeric works just as well as Prozac to combat depression, but without the crumby side effects like imbalanced brain chemistry, dependency, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, skin conditions, reduced appetite, anxiety, spontaneous combustion (kidding), etc, etc. Turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory food, which means that when we consume it, aches and pains may be reduced. We feel cozier, more relaxed and will sleep better. It is also a brain protectant which enhances our memory and mood.Black PepperThis pungent spice is used in Ayurveda to treat cognitive issues, elevating the mood and bringing about clear thinking. It also helps to enhance the absorption of curcumin, a major healing component in turmeric, helping you get the maximum benefits.GingerGinger is great for circulation, ensuring that sufficient blood and oxygen is getting to our brains, promoting optimum function. When our brains are functioning properly, we can think more clearly and feel more centred. Proper blood circulation will also keep our fingers and toes nice and warm. Ginger helps with digestion, which also improves our mood, as over 90% of our happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in our guts!CinnamonCinnamon is a great anti-inflammatory. Depression symptoms can be caused by inflammation of the brain, so keeping inflammation down is key for a good mood. Cinnamon also boosts brain function by being rich in antioxidants, and It’s great for stabilizing blood sugar, in turn reducing feelings of anxiety and nervousness. Almond MilkAlmond milk contains the magic anti-stress mineral, magnesium, which helps us to relax and sleep. It also contains the essential amino acid, tryptophan, which acts as a mood enhancer by producing and balancing hormones, creating a sense of calm, reducing anxiety and inducing sleep. Tryptophan can also curb our cravings for carbs, which can help reduce our chances of eating our feelings during these chilly times.5-HTP, a byproduct of tryptophan, helps to produce serotonin in the body, which is one of our major ‘feel good’ hormones. This potion of amino acids and hormones works with the brain and nervous system to enhance feelings of comfort, security and wellbeing.Coconut OilOur brains need fat to function and a well functioning brain allows clearer, focused thinking and a better mood. Coconut oil is a fat that is especially beneficial in helping to feed our brains, as It contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCT). MCT fats are special because they are easily absorbed into the body without having to go through the digestive system. The brain can convert these to ketones for fuel, providing energy that we can feel and use more quickly. Coconut oil’s blood sugar balancing properties also help stabilize our spirits, lowering the instances of anxiety, mood swings and poor focus. Look for raw, organic coconut oil. Avoid anything refined or hydrogenated.Maple SyrupThis sweet, sticky substance is really magical. It’s full of minerals like magnesium, which promotes relaxed muscles and a calm mood. Studies show that maple syrup has neuro-protective properties, shielding brain cells from damage.Put it together and whaddya got? Print Golden Turmeric Latte Ingredients 1.5 cups almond milk 1/4 tsp ground turmeric powder 1/4 tsp ground ginger powder 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp coconut oil 1-2 tsp maple syrup to taste pinch ground black pepper Instructions In a small pot, whisk all of the ingredients together over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.OR For a more ‘latte’ like experience:Carefully pour your warm drink into blender or magic bullet and whizz until frothy.Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy. Superfood Hot ChocolateYou know how sometimes it feels like chocolate will make it all better? Well, there’s actually a lot of truth to that. Raw cacao (pronounced cuh-cow) is a superfood that contains high amounts of antioxidants, important minerals (iron, magnesium, calcium) and essential, feel-good amino acids like tryptophan.Why am I saying ‘Cuh-cow’ instead of ‘Co-co’? Am I just weird? Well, yes I am. But there is also a difference between cacao and your old fashioned dutch processed cocoa that we enjoyed in marshmallow brownies as kids.Cacao refers to the tree that it, and cocoa, are derived from, called the Theobroma Cacao tree. The term ‘cacao’ refers to the unprocessed version of the cacao bean that provides amazing health benefits.Cocoa has been roasted and chemically processed, destroying most of the antioxidants and nutrients that make eating it worthwhile. Unless it is certified organic, a lot of cocoa contains traces of pesticides and may also be genetically modified (GMO).Raw cacoa floods our bodies with bliss-inducing chemicals and neurotransmitters like serotonin, phenylethylamine, tryptophan, anandamide and tyrosine. These elements are all associated with providing a euphoric happy buzz. Besides that, raw cacao is high in magnesium, which calms nerves and alleviates muscle aches and pains. Cacao is an amazing mood enhancer and produces the same chemistry in the brain that happens when we fall in love, but without all the insecurity and self doubt. Cacao = cozy.This recipe for Superfood Hot Chocolate uses many of the same ingredients as listed above for the Turmeric Tea and adds the mood improving, brain boosting properties of raw cacao. Print Superfood Hot Chocolate Ingredients 1 cup almond milk 1 1/2 tbsp raw cacao powder 1 tsp coconut oil 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 - 2 tsp maple syrup to taste Instructions In a small pot, whisk all of the ingredients together over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Pour into a mug and enjoy. For added luxury, top with little coconut cream or coconut whip!*Tip: You can replace 1/2 tsp of the cacao with turmeric and add a pinch of black pepper to make this a Hella Superfood Hot TurmeriCacao with added benefits. Green Matcha Spiru-Vanilla LatteThis hot super drink combines the ancient healing powers of both matcha tea and the Aztec-endorsed algae, Spirulina. It also gives us a nice, heart opening dose of the colour green on these grey days.MatchaMatcha is a type of green tea that contains the whole leaf ground into a powder (rather than a steeped teabag), which gives us 100% of the nutrients of the leaf. One cup of matcha contains the nutrients equivalent to ten cups of regular green tea!Matcha does contain caffeine, but it also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which promotes a state of relaxation and prevents us from feeling negative side effects from caffeine such as the jitters or anxiety. L-theanine creates alpha-waves, which promote relaxed wakefulness, focused concentration and clear thinking. Alpha waves also boost creativity and reduce depression! Matcha tea can increase brain levels of dopamine and serotonin, also helping to reduce stress and improve our mood.SpirulinaSpirulina is a blue-green algae that is found in alkaline lakes. It was consumed by the ancient Aztecs and became popularized again more recently when NASA proposed it as a potential food for space travel. Spirulina is a complete protein that contains B vitamins, providing a blast of energy to lift our spirits. It is also rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids, which boost brain health. Spirulina’s ability to normalize blood sugar levels reduces anxiety and irritability, and promotes a balanced, easy breezy mindset. Print Green Matcha Spiru-Vanilla Latte Ingredients 1 cup almond milk Or your fave milk 1 tsp matcha powder 1 tsp coconut oil 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 1/8 tsp tsp spirulina 1 - 2 tsp maple syrup To taste Instructions Combine the milk and coconut oil in a small pot over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Pour the milk combination into a blender (or leave in the pot if you are using an immersion blender). Add the remaining ingredients and blend for about 30 seconds, ensuring all of the powders are well integrated.OR if you prefer less froth…You can just whisk it all together in a pot until it’s hot.Pour into a mug and enjoy!...
- Stressed Out? Anxious? 6 Nutrients to Calm Your NervesSeptember 1, 2020As part of my Healthy Tips for Stressful Times series, I wanted to share my six favourite supplements that are a huge help when dealing with stress and anxiety.If you feel like you have been especially on edge lately, maybe even tearing at the seams a little, flooding your body with these stress and anxiety busting nutrients can be a big help. I think that whether or not you’re going through an especially hard time, supplementing with these nutrients just makes life better. Most of these nutrients focus on supporting the the adrenal glands, nervous system and brain, but they also help to improve your overall health.MagnesiumThis earth alkali mineral is considered to be a natural tranquilizer and an anti-stress mineral! It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is necessary in over 300 biochemical processes! Almost everyone is deficient in magnesium due to the nutrient depletion of our soil producing nutrient depleted food.How Magnesium Helps With Stress & AnxietyNervous system relaxant, reducing the feeling of irritability, fear and restlessnessNatural muscle relaxer, which helps exceptionally well with anxietyMood stabilizer that promotes an overall feeling of calmCan enhance sleep quality which helps us deal better with stressMagnesium can really help us sleep when taken before bed. You can even get extra magnesium into your system by soaking in an epsom salt bath or using a magnesium body spray.Try These:Magnesium SupplementMagnesium SprayEpsom SaltAdd These High Magnesium Foods to Your DayPumpkin, flax and chia seeds, nuts, black beans, spinach, swiss chard, quinoa, buckwheat, bananas, avocadoB-ComplexWhere magnesium is the anti-stress mineral, B-Complex is the anti-stress vitamin. B-complex is a group of vitamins that are essential to our bodies. They are the catalysts for many important body processes, like energy production. Stress depletes B vitamins, so it’s important to keep the levels up.How B-Complex Helps With Stress & AnxietyKeeps irritability at bay by providing daily energy necessary to deal with stressful situationsSupports the adrenal glands and helps to manage stress hormone productionHelps to maintain normal blood sugar levels, which can help prevent anxietyInvolved in regulating mood, stress response, brain fitness and other processes that can accumulatively reduce stressB-Complex is best taken in the morning, and for best absorption, choose a liquid version.Try This:B-Complex LiquidAdd These High B-Vitamin Foods to Your DayFree range eggs, yogurt, cheese, kefir, left green veggies, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans, nutritional yeastVitamin CWe have all heard about taking vitamin C to fight a cold, but this nutrient is super effective for curbing anxiety and stress.How Vitamin C Helps With Stress & AnxietyVitamin C lowers the secretion of cortisol, the hormone that triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress on the nervous system, minimizing both the physical and psychological effects of stressPeople with more vitamin C in their blood bounce back from stressful situations faster than those with lower levelsTry Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids for super absorption:Vitamin C SupplementAdd These High Vitamin C Foods to Your DayRed peppers, kiwifruit, mango, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, parsley, brussel sprouts, cauliflowerSunflower LecithinThis is one of my favourites. I feel it feeding my brain and there’s a difference in my sense of calm and wellbeing shortly after I take it. Our brains are made mostly of fat, and a lot of that fat is known as lecithin. Boosting the lecithin in our bodies boosts our brains and also has other health benefits like lubricating joints, liver detoxification and supporting heart health.How Sunflower Lecithin Helps With Stress & AnxietyHelps us create, repair and strengthen brain and nerve cells Great source of choline, which is vital for brain health and high cognitive functionCholine is also a precursor to acetylcholine, the primary neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us get into a rest and relaxation modeProtects nerve fibres, supporting the flow of messages throughout the nervous system, keeping mood swings, agitation and anxiety at bayMake sure to use sunflower lecithin and not soy lecithin. Most soy sources are from genetically modified crops, where there are currently no genetically modified sunflower crops.Some people prefer the powder to the liquid, as the liquid has a consistency similar to thick motor oil. It’s fine for smoothies though.Try These:Sunflower Lecithin PowderSunflower Lecithin LiquidYou can mix lecithin into your oatmeal, soups, salad dressings and smoothies.Add These High Lecithin Foods to Your DaySunflower seeds, of course! And egg yolks.Add Food Sources of Choline TooBrussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, chickpeas, navy beansL-theanineL-theanine is an amino acid and another one of my favourite nutrients for stress and anxiety. I can take this during the day for concentration or at night for sleep. With l-theanine, it seems the trick is that whatever you focus on, it helps with. So if you’re focused on a project it can be a concentration aid, or if you are using it for sleep, take a few deep breaths and let it help you relax and doze off.How L-theanine Helps With Stress & AnxietyIncreases brain levels of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters that help to elevate mood and curb anxietyReduces anxiety by increasing alpha brain wave activity to levels that are similar to those during meditation (this may seems weird, but I have noticed it makes me more psychic too)Promotes relaxation, improves focus and reduces stressTry This:L-theanineFood Sources of L-theanineGreen tea is the best source of l-theanine. If you are avoiding caffeine, you can get decaffeinated green tea.Omega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-3 fatty acids are the ‘good fats’ that we always hear about. They are essential fats, which means that our bodies don’t produce them. We need to get them from food.How Omega 3 Helps With Stress & AnxietyBeneficial for the function and development of the brain, meaning we are better equipped to think clearly and handle stressful situationsAnxiety and depression can be due to or exacerbated by mild inflammation of the brain which can cause a breakdown of signalling between cells; Omega-3 fatty acids are an anti-inflammatory that can prevent thisHas been shown to improve symptoms of depression, which is often closely linked with anxiety disordersI suggest a vegetarian source to avoid the dangers of mercury in modern fish oil.Try This:Omega-3 Fatty AcidsAdd These High Omega-3 Rich Foods to Your DayFish, like salmon, is high on the list of foods high in omega-3, but it’s hard to find fish that is safe to eat these days. To avoid high concentrations of mercury, antibiotics and pesticides, try other sources of omega-3s like walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and organic eggs.Well, there you have it. My six favourite go-to supplements for stress and anxiety, plus some foods that you can add to your daily meals and snacks to promote good feelings. May you have ALL of the good feelings. 🙂 ...
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Holistic Nutrition is not just about food. It’s a reflection of the intrinsic connection between the body, mind and spirit. Food is a source of energy, but so is laughter. We digest food, but we also digest words and thoughts. How we feel when we eat is just as important as what we eat, because the workings of our body systems are connected to our emotions.
We are each a beautiful feedback loop of energy that includes our physical bodies, thoughts and emotions. When that flow gets interrupted by poor nutrition, stress, an abundance of negative thoughts and feelings or an uninspiring environment, imbalance or dis-ease can occur. The good news is, because of that intrinsic interconnectedness, working on one aspect helps all of the other aspects come into balance.
My role as a Holistic Nutritionist is to see the whole picture of your personal state of wellness and hone in on the simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in your life, bringing you more energy, balance and vitality. My wish for you is soul sovereignty, where you embody your purest potential and become the self-governed, self-healer that you already are, body, mind and spirit.
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Reiki is an ancient form of healing using universal life force energy, helping to harmonize body, mind & spirit.