Your Gut and Your Mind Work Together

An important part of my approach in working with my clients to help them to reduce their stress levels is teaching them about their mind-body connection.  When you think about something stressful you get that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, or when you have to make a decision you are often asked “What is your gut feeling about it?”

Your gut and your mind are connected so they affect each other.  Did you know that your gut is known as the second brain?  This is because your gastro-intestinal tract makes over 90% of your body’s serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, anxiety, depression and more).  We are 99% bacteria, so maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional.  If your microbiome – made up of a hundred trillion bacteria – is out of balance, you are likely to end up anxious and/or depressed, suffering from fatigue, poor memory and brain fog.

Your beneficial gut bacteria are easily disturbed and affected by stress.  Medications (especially antibiotics and antacids), contraceptive pills, toxins and chemicals taken in through our food, drink, and other environmental influences all damage the composition of our gut flora.  The proliferation of good bacteria in our microbiome helps us to restore good gut health and heal symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, acne, eczema, colds, infections, joint and muscle pain.  If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health by making your own probiotic-rich fermented veggies (kimchi) and microbial-rich cultured milk (kefir) and incorporate them into your daily diet.  Below is some more information on how you can easily do this.


Kimchi (cultured vegetables)

In Korea kimchi is the national dish.  These cultured vegetables are loaded with beneficial bacteria that clean up your intestines, aid digestion, eliminate toxins, control sugar cravings and restore and maintain a healthy inner ecosystem.

It’s easy and cheap to make your own probiotic-rich fermented veggies at home in just three simple steps: chop, salt, and wait.


800 grams of Organic cabbage and carrots shredded

12 grams Himalayan pink salt and some chilli or mustard seeds (optional)



  • In a large bowl combine the salt, shredded cabbage and carrot.  Mix well with your hands.
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature until you begin to notice the salt drawing the liquid out of the veggies. Once you notice a layer of water in the bottom of the bowl, you can spoon this mixture into a jar. Use an airtight container that seals with a rubber or plastic ring and a clamp-down lid.
  • Tightly pack the mixture into the jar, push it down with your fist or the back of a wooden spoon, so that it is just covered with its own brine and leave a 2 inch gap at the top of the jar. Top up with water if necessary.
  • Seal the jar and allow it to ferment for 2 weeks. In the summer the veggies may culture faster so you can begin tasting after 4-6 days – it is done when it tastes sour like sauerkraut, rather than salty.
  • Then refrigerate and it will last in the fridge for months.


Just a spoonful a day is more powerful than a whole bottle of probiotic supplements!


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Kefir in Turkish means to “feel good”

Kefir is cultured milk that is a microbial-rich food that helps to restore your body’s inner ecology.  It can be made from any type of fresh milk and once cultured, it has a more tart taste and the finished product is thicker like drinking yoghurt.

Kefir is an excellent source of vitamin B-12 and tryptophan (an essential amino acid) which combined with the calcium and magnesium calms your nervous system.  The body converts tryptophan into serotonin (the brain chemical linked to mood) and balanced serotonin levels can induce sleep, prevent waking during the night, cure constipation and depression.  Kefir is also rich in vitamin B-1 (thiamine) which is known as the “morale vitamin” because of its beneficial effects on the nervous system and on mental attitude.

To Make Kefir

  • Buy the freeze dried starter cultures made from kefir grains from your local wholefoods or health shop. Each sachet makes 1 litre of kefir.
  • You can use any choice of fresh milk – cows, goats, lacto-free or soya. You can also make fizzy kefir with coconut water or grape juice.
  • Slowly add the milk to the sachet to form a smooth paste and gradually add the rest of the milk stirring very well for a few minutes (I prefer to use my electric mixer).
  • Pour this mixture back into the milk bottle or any other 1 litre container.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for around 12 hours or more until the mixture thickens like yoghurt. You’ll know the kefir is set when you can stand a toothpick up in it.
  • Refrigerate for around 6 hours and drink chilled. Once you’ve poured yourself a glass stir it gently to give a smoother consistency.
  • Consume within 4 days. Make a fresh batch every few days.

You can also buy kefir from your local health shop or order it from Abel and Cole in the UK.

Taking the time to commit to creating good health for yourself by rebuilding your gut health is a vital part of your self-care.  The more you take care of yourself, the more you come back into balance.

Take good care

Caroline x




You Are What You Eat


You are what you eat.  What you eat affects your thoughts and what you think affects how you feel. Unhealthy eating can exacerbate your reactivity to stress and then your stress response brings physiological changes that cause cravings for sweet and salty foods.  Therefore what you eat affects your levels of stress and anxiety.

From the beginning of your life you have been rewarded with food.  As a baby when you cried you were fed or given a bottle.  As a child you were rewarded with dessert for eating your vegetables or tidying your room. Perhaps you celebrated your graduation from University or gaining a promotion at work by going out for a meal in your favourite restaurant. We eat to reward or entertain ourselves.

We also eat to lessen or negate an unpleasant experience.  If you lose an important business contract or go on a date that doesn’t go well, you find comfort in the contents of your fridge.  When you are feeling busy or overworked and you finally go on a much needed holiday you look forward to eating out at all those great restaurants to help you to relax and unwind.

Emotional eating occurs when you turn to food based on emotional feelings rather than physical hunger. Eating to “stuff your feelings down”, or  eating foods that have positive memories attached to them that make you feel better, or eating just to distract yourself from strong emotions. Comfort foods deliver only short-term relief.  The emotion you feel is only partially desensitised while you are eating the food.  If you had a time schedule to show how long the food makes you feel better, as opposed to how long you wear the food, it would be easier for your rational mind to take over.

It would be more helpful to replace the emotional satisfaction that the food provides with an activity that serves the same purpose.  So if during a busy day you usually take a break to relax with a cup of tea and a biscuit.  An alternative may be to sit and relax for a few minutes while practicing mindfulness, listening to some soothing music or doing a few deep breathing exercises.

By pinpointing the times, locations and reasons you emotionally eat, you can begin to change your behavioural patterns.

Identify when you are most likely to eat – you are bored, need something to do, feel nervous, lonely, afraid, frustrated, stressed, or anxious.

Where you eat – while driving, in bed, watching TV, during tea breaks, or at social events.

And why you eat – when you need to feel loved, to feel more important, to relax, to feel secure, to compensate for something unpleasant, for companionship, or as a reward.

Ask: What could I do instead?  Give yourself plenty of time to think of alternative activities that genuinely appeal to you.  Perhaps do something creative, read a book or magazine, call a friend, go for a walk or bike ride, go to a movie, work on a project or hobby, close your eyes and relax for a few minutes, go for a drive to a scenic spot, swim, engage in a sport you enjoy, knit or sew, do a puzzle, interact with others, etc.

The food that you choose to eat is the most important factor in your life that you have total control over in order to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing.  Being aware of this, will result in the ability to be more in tune with your body; integrating mind, body, and soul.  This can result in a greater understanding of food as nourishment in order to gain and maintain your physical and emotional wellbeing, where you feel stronger and more resilient to the pressures you face.

Decide that you are important enough.  Prioritise it in your life and support yourself in being successful.

Take tiny pigeon steps and pick one small change that is quick and easy and will get you started.

Be kind to yourself and forget about all or nothing perfectionism.

Change is one of our greatest teachers.  It asks us each day to prove our commitment to ourselves.

Ask for support from a friend, spouse, coach, colleague, family member, or whomever you feel comfortable with.  Spend time with like-minded people.

Keep it simple and easy.  The less complicated it is, the less excuses you’ll make.

Celebrate even small successes by choosing rewards that are meaningful to you.

Caroline x

How Does Stress Affect Your Nutrition?


How Does Stress Affect Your Nutrition?

When we’re feeling rushed and stressed we tend to make poor food choices. These food choices create more stress in the long run, as well as possible health problems. Poor nutrition can lead to lowered immunity so you’re more susceptible to illnesses, both minor and major. When choosing your foods always ask: ‘Will this food cleanse me or clog me?’  Your body, not to mention your stress levels, will feel the difference!

Try some or all of the tips listed below and you should find yourself feeling healthy, more productive and best of all less stressed!

Drinking Too Much Caffeine:  When burning the candle at both ends, people often find themselves using coffee as a jump-start in the morning or they form a pattern of all-day coffee, tea or cola drinking. Too much caffeine leads to poor concentration resulting in decreased effectiveness, sleep disturbances, and increased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood.  Aim to have no caffeine after 2pm since it has a half life in your body of at least 6 hours so it can interfere with your sleep at night.  Begin by gradually weaning yourself off of large amounts of caffeine. A relatively easy and healthy way to do that is to replace more of your tea and coffee with herbal teas.

Munching on Junk Food: Due partially to increased levels of cortisol, stress makes us prone to emotional eating so we eat when we aren’t hungry, or eat foods that are bad for us. Stress makes us crave foods high in fat, sugar and salt. When you think about it how often have you turned to your favourite junk food after a long, stressful day? You can replace less-healthy munchies with carrots, sunflower seeds, edaname beans, protein bars, celery sticks, or other healthy choices. (Even popcorn is a better choice if you leave out the butter and salt.)

Skipping Meals:  Have you ever found yourself rushing out of the house without a healthy breakfast (picking up a latte doesn’t count!), or realizing you’re starving in the late afternoon because you didn’t eat lunch? When we don’t eat healthy food (too little protein and healthy carbohydrates, too much sugar, etc.) we can experience blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can lead to mood swings, fatigue, poor concentration and other negative consequences in the short term, and greater health problems like hyperglycemia in the long term.  Grab a hard-boiled egg, piece of fruit and a small orange juice on your way out the door.

Forgetting Water: When you are busy, it’s easy to forget to drink water. A good portion of people only get water from sodas or tea and coffee. If you’re a cola drinker, you’re probably experiencing the same caffeine-related side effects that coffee drinkers experience. To stay hydrated try to drink eight glasses per day, or even four.  Try sparkling water, you’ll still be getting a refreshing treat, but you’ll be adding water to your system rather than detracting it.

Crash Diets: Weight gain due to stress is common, so some people intentionally eat less food than they need, or try dangerous fad diets to lose the excess weight fast. These diets  aren’t balanced with fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy carbohydrates and can often be bad for your health in the long run, even if they look attractive short term.  Make healthy food choices.

Planning Ahead: People who are rushed find it’s easier to just drive through a fast food place or go to a restaurant than go home and cook something. The best way is to plan a menu of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of each week, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need and shop for everything once a week. That way you know you’ll have what you want when you need it, and you won’t have to stress over what to eat each night; you’ll already have thought of it. This makes eating at home much easier too.


Caroline x