Eat Your Heart Out!! 💓

Do you Eat your Emotions? When you’re feeling upset, angry and stressed do you sometimes reach for that comfort food to fill a void, to satiate yourself? Does it Work?
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I think we all have ups and downs with Food, some of us restricting ourselves with food to keep a certain body weight and image, others binging on food to help fill that emotional hunger within.
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Yes I’ve been there, on both ends of the scale. And on those dreaded scales too!! Personally I know that when I’m triggered by someone or something, feeling stressed and overwhelmed I all too often reach for those carby and sweet foods to give me energy and help me function. I suffer with my gut health and it really plays havoc in moments like this. I consciously know those foods are the last thing that will help but there’s an inner subconscious drive that can take over.
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Ways I’m Helping myself with Emotional Eating:
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*Notice my Thoughts: When I can CATCH my thoughts, identify the triggers and know where they’ve stemmed from its easier to take CONTROL over them. I think when you have a reason it’s much easier to stop the urge. As humans we’re always looking for meaning and answers!
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*Connect: I’m practising whenever I have a craving or that inner urge to slow down and connect with my stomach to try and decipher whether it is in fact Hunger or whether it’s boredom/stress/emotions.
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*Gentle Approach: I try not to restrict myself too much, I don’t want to have a negative association with food as at the end of the day it’s what fuels us and is essential for life. I am learning not to beat myself up if I do fall off the plan. We are only human and that odd treat is definitely allowed and worth it!
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*New Ways of Coping: fins new ways to cope with the triggers and stressors in your life. Yesterday I became upset over an incident and yes I did have one or two sweet treats initially and then I decided to ‘Scribble Scream’ – a technique I suggest to parents and children all the time! I got out my paper and crayons and drew my feeling words that I wanted to scream out of me! I practice what I preach and it really does work!
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#healthyfood #choices #emotions #catchingthoughts

My Worst Critic!! 👩🏻🤭🤫

What do you tell yourself? How do you speak to yourself? Honestly, don’t lie!! If you heard your own dialogue played back to you, those inner thoughts/chatter and self-talk, would you hear words of love, of gentleness, of kindness or would it sound harsh, negative and unloving? Maybe it changes on different days? Mine certainly does and more often than not it can be that harsh, unloving voice that I hear. Isn’t it awful? Why does this happen? How does this happen?

I know I would never speak to anyone else how I at times speak to myself. We really are our own worst critics. If I wouldn’t treat anyone else this way, even those that perhaps ‘deserve it’ why then do I deserve it? Why is it there is one set of rules for others and a different for myself?

Does this chatter happen to you? Yesterday evening was no exception for me. I received these professional photos of myself that had been taken a week ago, by an extremely talented photographer. Here’s a snippet of what my chatter was like:

“Your face looks bloated and fat”

“Your hair is frizzy”

“You’ve wrinkles around your eyes and on your forehead”

“Your teeth aren’t straight or white enough”

“Those broad shoulders”

Literally these were the comments that I had circling round and round in my mind within a minute. That’s how quickly we can self-deprecate, knock ourselves down, beat ourselves up and be left feeling worthless, not good enough and completely shitty! It’s like an automated response at times, the flick of a switch. Not ALL the time might I add because believe it or not I do try my hardest to stop this chatter, to see my worth, my uniqueness and my beauty.

I called a friend because I was feeling shitty! It didn’t matter yesterday what she said to me I wasn’t accepting that these photos were in anyway nice. Thankfully I have the most amazing friends and she helped me to cop on, to put things into perspective, to ‘see‘ more clearly. Funny, as the one part of me that I do absolutely LOVE are my eyes!! I need to wipe them and start to see what truly matters.

I’ll tell you:

I love the saying that beauty is not skin deep. Because yes I might have some wrinkles around my eyes and on my forehead but they are my laughter lines when I have had moments of joy, happiness and love. Those lines represent the worries, stress and fears I felt at different times in my life. Those fears that I overcame, sorrows that have made me appreciate life and how I am not willing to waste a single moment. They mark the face pulling auntie with her niece and nephews!

That frizzy and at times unruly hair is a combination of the curls I had as a young child mixed with the years of using the famous iron to straighten my hair for those teenage discos!! 😱🚒 It’s the fringe I decided to cut myself at the age of 13. My hairdressing days were short lived let me tell you!!!

Those teeth that aren’t in a complete straight line, well they’re the teeth you moved slightly because you were so fond of sucking your thumb and still hadn’t enough by the age of 20!! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Those broad shoulders? The same shoulders that defended your team at the All Ireland Basketball competitions, that kept you strong running races and that helped hold you up when you’ve felt like falling?

So… now you see why we need to stop this negative and degrading self-chatter and replace it with positive, appreciative, meaningful and loving words. It can change your entire outlook, mood and energy in a split second. Do you choose to focus on the feel good factor or to be dragged down by the dull and heavy baggage we tie to ourselves at times? Because it is in our control and it is our decision.

“Look Beyond

See Deeper Within –

It’s Not just the Outer Skin!

True Beauty Lies

& Multiplies

Once you begin to

Recognise”

(Deirdre Ward)

Your Health is Your Wealth 💰

I am opening up to you all, the Tough Cookie readers about a personal struggle I’ve had with my health all my life. It might help someone else know that they aren’t the only one suffering. 

I believe 100% in a gut feeling and trusting/following your gut. But what if it is your gut that is causing you health problems? This is exactly why I believe in finding the answers/guidance here. Don’t go with your head or even your heart, rely on that ‘Gut Feeling’ 

I was born 8 weeks premature and my whole life I was told that I had a ‘bad’ ‘sluggish’ ‘lazy’ bowel/gut. My Mam always said that I had bother and for years this ailment has caused me so much suffering, so many hospital/consultant visits/tests/trials and quite frankly so much frustration/pain. For numerous years it didn’t bother me, it was manageable and I even somewhat had a ‘normal’ functioning gut. It’s not the nicest topic of conversation but because it is the core of our being I do believe that more people than we think suffer, it’s just you don’t want to go shouting about it from the rooftops!

It can cause complete and utter havoc with my life and it has predominately for the last year. It is a vicious circle. It affects other organs and systems within the body. I feel exhausted, sluggish and drained so much not to mention how it can make you feel fat and disgusting also. It can run riot within your mind making you believe these negative thoughts about yourself, your body image and really develop a low self-esteem. I’ve had to cancel so many social events/catch ups/outings due to my bowel as I’ve just not had the energy to go or to be in the humour to be around people. It can make you feel extremely self conscious and even somewhat obsessive about how you look and for me this past year about what I eat. 

I have never had a problem with food but I can totally empathise with people that struggle with eating disorders. I got a food intolerance test done last year because I had put on weight, I was very bloated, my skin broke out and I just didn’t feel well, I was miserable. I found out I was intolerant to some major food groups – wheat, gluten, yeast so I did my best to eliminate these foods from my diet. I have always been sporty and into keeping fit so I was exercising regularly, at least 4 times weekly but sadly I didn’t see any huge improvements in my health. This last year I have tried everything! I have been to people that work with your energy, I have tried reflexology, I attend counselling, I have tried various diets, I have had colonic hydrotherapy, I have been to a kinesologist; you name it I’ve tried it! Been there, done that! 

For me personally I know that it has flared up this last year due to my circumstances, my thoughts and my image of myself. I left a permanent job to go on career beak, I have been grieving, I moved to Abu Dhabi to teach which didn’t work out the way I had planned, I’m back living at home with my Dad which don’t get me wrong is wonderful at times but some days I can’t help but wonder where I am going in life! I have taken a huge risk in developing my own programme for children, implementing it voluntarily in schools and now running my own summer camp. Facing the Fear is great but it is completely and utterly terrifying. How’s my Gut? It’s knotted, it’s tense, it’s stuck. Why? Because of my own anxieties, doubts, fears and lack of self-belief at times. 

I don’t believe any doctor or any holistic healer can cure me or even help me. My gut tells me that I am the sole gatekeeper that holds the key to unleashing my health problems. I have to trust myself, I have to believe in myself, I have to love myself and relax within myself and my life. It is my journey and it has been a completely bumpy and rough ride this last year but I do have faith and hope that the road is smoothening and levelling out ahead. Those signposts are becoming more obvious and I’m trusting the route that’s laid out for me. And just remember whatever bumpy road YOU are travelling down, it will get easier to ride and the destination will become clearer/more visible. Keep going!

“Appreciate your Health 

It truly is your Wealth

Times may Come 

When you feel Glum

And Your Body just won’t ‘Run’

Listen to your Gut

It might get you out of a Rut”

(Deirdre Ward) 


Tend to the Temple that is Your Body 🏛

Do you reach for those sugary treats when feeling upset, stressed, sad etc? I remember someone stating recently that one of the biggest ‘problems’/addictions we have today is that of food, ranking up high with alcohol and drugs! It seems a bit crazy to classify food problems with those with alcohol and drugs, or is it? 

It’s widely available and can be inexpensive to get a certain ‘fix’. I couldn’t agree more. I most definitely crave certain types of foods when I’m upset, stressed or worried. Sadly not leafy green vegetables!! Does eating certain sugary/comfort foods actually provide any comfort? Yes I believe they do. Is it long lived? Definitely not! Usually within twenty minutes of consuming some of these ‘comfort’ foods I would feel guilty first and secondly it would manifest in negative physical ways for my body. A sure sign of my body crying out for help and screaming NO! 

I think we are ALL guilty of doing this in our lives. I let the guilt get to me at times but what I have learned from my mistakes is that there comes a point in your life when you reach the limit – you want to feel energetic and healthy, you want to love and respect your body, you are attached to it, it’s not going anywhere so either continue to battle against it or listen fully to it, give it the respect it deserves and decide to treat it with love. It is your ‘temple’. When part of the foundation/design of your temple is broken, out of line, unsteady then you too feel shaky, vulnerable and weak. 

What’s needed for a strong, unwavering and solid foundation? Only YOU knows what works best for you but make sure you take the time to build the Temple that you deserve. 🌟

“How you Feed = How you Feel” 🍽

Repulsed by Yourself? 😷☠️🙈

We ALL tear ourselves completely APART like animals attacking their prey. Animals hunt and attack as a means of survival to feed & nourish themselves. We are NO different. 

We can attack others but most often the ‘prey’ we seek out and attack the most is OURSELVES. We are vicious, angry and feel complete disgust, repulsion and want to inflict pain inwardly. 

How do I know all this? I know it 100% because that is the struggle that I deal with every day. I have been working on eradicating these feelings and this poor self-image for the past year. To be honest with you I thought it would be much easier and take much quicker than it is! This whole loving yourself business is fucking hard! Do I give up? YES. Do I tell myself how much I should love myself? YES. Do I desperately want to accept myself for me? YES. Have I thought I finally reached that point at one stage in the last year only to be knocked down by myself again? YES! 

Do we ever fully reach that point of loving oneself 100%? To be bluntly honest I have my doubts!! I feel recently I can go from feeling really good within myself, seeing my beauty, both inner & outer beauty, appreciating who I am and what I represent/believe to having  a complete opposing opinion the next day! I might utterly struggle to see ANY positive within, seeing only my flaws, beating and berating myself until I feel repulsed. It’s NOT a nice feeling and as mentioned one I am endlessly working on to eradicate. I WILL succeed some day very soon, I have a gut feeling all my hard work will be rewarded!! 🙌🏻🙏

What I have tried to do and I believe it IS the only way of fully overcome this problem is to sit with my own feelings & thoughts instead of running from them. I love to journal and just get my thoughts down on paper. Stillness & complete silence is needed to really tap into the true feelings/self chatter. Recently I walked on a beach and screamed out my frustrations which I also recorded! Insanity? Perhaps but it was a wonderful release and I felt more free afterwards. We NEED to expel the frustrations, hurt, anger, loss, grief, negativity etc instead of letting these destructive emotions simmer inside of us. There does ALWAYS come a point when these feelings erupt and explode so allowing them to simmer and gradually accumulate is not healthy. We ALL feel these certain ways at some point. We are only human and we must realise there is no such thing as ‘perfection‘ 

This notion of ‘perfection’ stems from media, from others’ judgements/perceptions of us, from a lack of acceptance from ourselves&others, from ideals that we imagine in our heads. Will these ‘ideals’ EVER be achievable or attainable? Where does the ‘bar’ we’ve set for ourself sit? Who are we trying to impress and receive acceptance from? If we don’t attain this love & acceptance from ourselves first we will never feel this ‘love’ we ALL crave. 

We numb this lack of love we feel with elements from our external environments, in unhealthful ways.

Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. Exercise. Overeating. Starvation. Purging. Gambling. Self Harm. 

We ALL have our ways of ‘dealing’ with our inner turmoil. At times this turmoil is stirred and sparked by ourselves but a lot of my experience is that external factors can really infringe on how I feel within and set the wheels in motion for this negative chatter to begin. I am learning as best I can and making a real conscious effort to not ‘allow’ others or life events to affect my own inner sense of calm, peace and love. 

Don’t hand over your Power to  ANYONE else. 

We can all regain our own power, tap into our true emotions/thoughts/opinions of ourself. There you will find healing and the ultimate love. 

“Own YOUR Power

Don’t Feel Sour

Touch & Heal those Wounds

You’re NOT Doomed” 

(Deirdre Ward) 



‘Food For Thought’

How is your relationship with food? Do you find yourself comfort eating when stressed out, upset, happy, lonely, angry? Do you find you starve yourself when feeling certain ways/emotions? Perhaps you do neither of the above and find other means of coping with situations, emotions and stress. 

Personally I for one am an emotional eater at times. When I feel stressed about a certain situation, upset for some reason and lacking energy/strength, I can very often find myself craving that sugar rush and fix to ‘fix’ my situation/feelings. Does it fix it? Perhaps for a few short minutes but in the long run; Certainly Not! 

For the last four months I have been struggling with my health. Ever since a child I have had problems with my stomach/gut. I often remember getting pains in my stomach when I ate too much or when I didn’t eat the more healthful foods. Recently I have undergone an intolerance test and have found I am intolerant to some major food groups – gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy, yeast! What can one eat?!! Exactly what I was thinking also!! It was been such a challenge to try to eliminate these foods from my diet. 

For over a month I have been assigned a strict meal plan to follow to try help me to feel better, to reduce bloating etc There has not been a week yet where I haven’t had some mishap and have veered away from the plan! Stress, cravings, the flu, feeling fed up etc have come knocking on my door and I have reached for that sugary treat or that food I’m intolerant to, to ‘fill a void’. Afterall I’m only human! 

Afterwards however I don’t treat myself as a human. I beat myself up for having ‘failed’, for having gone off plan, for having disappointed myself etc This is where I am extremely hard on myself and feel guilty. Who is hanging over me, judging me and being disappointed in me? Not a single person other than myself! I place these high expectations on myself, I beat myself up for going off track, I forget that life can throw challenges, we can all have those days where we get tired and fed up of trying so hard, when results are slow and hope is minimal. Yes we are only human!

Like I’ve mentioned some of us may reach for that certain ‘comfort’ food, some of us may reach for the bottle of alcohol, some may take drugs, some of us may starve ourselves, some may over-exercise, some may harm themselves physically etc The list does goes on. 

When life throws a ‘spanner in the works’, when we hear some sad/worrying news, when we feel stressed and anxious, when we loose that person we love, when we are full of grief and sadness, when we feel angry and full of rage etc we ALL have ways we try to cope and comfort ourselves to feel better and less stressed, sad, lonely etc What I am learning and trying my best to do is to find those ways of coping and dealing with varying emotions and situations in the best, most helpful and healthful way possible for me. We are all different there is no one ‘correct’ way, find the way that’s best for you. Just remember to treat yourself gently and with kindness along the way – I am slowly improving myself!!

“Food is essential to fuel our bodies, 

Love is essential to feed our hearts, 

Free yourself of guilt, disappointment, shame & hatred 

To fuel yourself & feel elated” 💗

(Deirdre Ward) 

Your Health Really IS Your Wealth 

          
How is your health? Do you feel energetic, strong and full of life? Have you little or no ailments or health complaints? If so you’re very lucky. Our health really is the wealth that we can have as you can have all the money/power in the world but if one is feeling miserable and sick no money/power is of any use. 

Having witnessed the effects that a long terminal illness can have on one’s body and how it affects the individual and those around them for nearly nine years I appreciated  and valued having a healthy body. Perhaps recently I ‘forgot’ to appreciate this as I no longer have it staring me in the face every day. 

For the past 4/5months I’ve been struggling with my own health complaints. Yes some may feel that mine are minor compared to so many others and in comparison with so many diseases/ailments that people have. I too feel that they are but also I believe that no matter what complaint one has it is THEIR complaint and if it makes one feel miserable and frustrated then that is totally justifiable. 

I won’t bore you with my medical report but to touch briefly on the matter I’ve had ongoing digestive problems since a child which has progressively worsened in adulthood. Recently I got results to a food intolerance test and I found out that I am intolerant to gluten, yeast, wheat and eggs. I have been living my life for the past 27 years having no clue of this! It is extremely challenging to suddenly remove and cut these food groups out of one’s diet after so many years. Ireland is improving in recognising these dietary needs in various supermarkets however the range of foods available are still minimal and also it can be very challenging when one is out for dinner or eating on the go! I would highly recommend a food intolerance test as one may be feeling miserable due to a food being consumed that your body just cannot digest. 

In my opinion we are too focused on our physical bodies. There are so many bloggers, celebrity icons, articles etc that central around how we look and one’s weight. Of course our physical bodies play a huge factor in how well/unwell one is feeling and of course if one is overweight then it’s an area to focus on. 

Do we maintain and care for the health of our mind and our spirit? In my own experience if one’s mind and spirit isn’t healthy then one’s physical health most definitely is not healthy. Do we treat all three factors equally or are we disregarding one or more area in our lives?

If my mind has not got a positive outlook I know I find it impossible to exercise and to feel motivated, if my spirit is low and I’ve no ‘fight’ in me I know I can become sedentary and lack energy. I know recently I haven’t put as much time and effort into these other two areas of my health. My positivity has been flattened due to feeling frustrated and fed up of my ongoing ailments, trying various suggestions/visiting various professionals and receiving little/no answers and not seeing much improvement. This is natural that one’s spirit and mind takes a blow. The question is whether I choose to stay in this frame of mind or become determined to work on all 3 areas of my health to ultimately and hopefully feel healthy and back to myself again or not. 

From the image above the stone with ‘mind’ inscribed in it is the smallest one. I feel each stone should be the same size and hold equal importance. Work on one’s mind, body and spirit to lead a healthy life. Take the time to exercise the mind, to meditate and to fill one’s spirit with positivity and light. 

“Keep your Mind, Body & Spirit Alive, 

Do more than merely just Survive,

Exercise, Meditate, Sleep & Eat!” 

(Deirdre Ward) 



Balloon 

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I started writing this poem late last night and my initial intention was to use the metaphor of a balloon to depict the struggle we have with our Body Image. As I finished my poem I then realised it can also convey a message of ANY STRUGGLE we have in life. I think it is my favourite poem I have written so far as I believe everyone will be able to connect in some way with it, extract some meaning and think about a certain struggle or hardship that they have experienced at some point.

I feel one’s body image has a huge effect on how one feels from day to day. Again I believe that this can start at such an early age. From my teaching experience I have heard children as young as five say that they are fat, too skinny, not strong or that they don’t like certain parts of their body. This is SHOCKING and devastating to hear from a child. Indeed it is also DEVASTATING to hear from an adult of any age. Why do we feel so repulsed at looking in the mirror at our own reflection? Why are we constantly trying to CHANGE certain aspects of our body?

Personally it is also an area of my life I struggle with on a daily basis. Some days (usually those days I exercise and eat well) I feel wonderful in my own skin, don’t see any part of me that needs changing and can easily look in the mirror and like what I see staring back at me! However there are plenty of days when I feel sluggish, tired, bloated and fat and the reflection staring back at me is an ugly and nasty one. I don’t particularly like these days. I don’t like beating myself up about my waistline, my hips or any other body part. It is draining!

I am also definitely an emotional eater. During this type of a day where I am feeling very low within myself or feel stressed I tend to crave sweet treats and foods that will comfort me and give me that ‘quick fix’ that I need to feel happy. Is it making me happy on a long-term basis? Is it healthy? Is it changing those parts of me that I feel need ‘changing’? Is it eliminating the stress? DEFINITELY NOT! Some others may starve themselves or over eat and then make themselves sick. Again it is not going to help what is truly bubbling and boiling deep within. This is probably one of the more important times when one ‘should’ try to eat healthy, go out for some exercise, try to see a part of oneself that is lovable and try to be stronger than that little voice in one’s head that is whispering those comments of hatred and disdain. I don’t like using the word SHOULD as I do know that sometimes it can be very difficult to do the things one ‘should’ do and seem utterly impossible to find that one part that is loved.

Thankfully I have never had an eating disorder. However I don’t agree that one needs to be labelled as having ‘anorexia’ or ‘bulimia’ or any other eating problem to be deemed having an issue with food or body image. I honestly believe that everyone struggles at some point with their body image. I also feel that society puts more emphasis on females having a problem rather than males. This is also WRONG as there are many males out there that struggle with how they look. Again I ask you WHY? In my opinion it is in relation to other people’s judgments, perhaps a parent trying to do their best but tells their son/daughter from an early age to stop eating sweet treats as they will be fat or rewarding children from a young age with chocolaty/sweet treats only. The opposite can also be true that if a parent deprives a child of anything sweet will they consume too many sweet treats when older as they were not allowed to when younger? It is difficult to know what is best but in my opinion I feel a healthy balance is best. A child also needs to be educated on healthy foods and what foods will fuel a body well. I also think that it is so important to allow a child to express how they feel about themselves and how they look from an early age. It is essential for a child to be told how beautiful and how much love they radiate from the INSIDE and the OUTSIDE. Again this is vital from a young age. I feel that if this is done it would eliminate a lot of problems surrounding body image.

To conclude try to treat your body as a temple – eat healthful foods, have your odd sweet treat, exercise and also I feel it is so important to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If it feels tired then rest, if it is full of energy then be active, if it is sad allow it be so and if it feels happy then laugh and share your happiness. LISTEN TODAY!

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