Join LIFE Fit’s Blog, where we discuss how nutrition plays its role in your journey to better health from the inside out.

Taking the “sins” out of food 

From a psychological perspective, as professionals in this field, when we look at many of the numerous diets and eating fads that exist today, especially some of the more popular ones, we shake our heads in sadness and disbelief.  

The reason we view these “programs” as we do, is because of the negative impact that they can have on their participants. This is because they tap into our fear mechanisms and at best could simply perpetuate them, but unfortunately in many cases they have the potential to ingrain even more deeply self sabotaging behaviours and in some cases, may even be the final straw of some peoples development of full blown eating disorders or worse. 

Even down to the seemingly innocent use of the phrase ‘sins’ to quantify food types, on the face of it you may ask what is wrong with this as it is a term in common use in our society today. The issue is that it literally “demonises” food and so anything that goes with it. This is because in many cultures the term “sin`’ is associated with the worst aspects of what it means to be human, such as cheating, guilt and shame and so will often lead to the hiding and denial of such behaviours, even to oneself and so follows feelings of self loathing and an ever deepening and reeferming of personal insecurities, such as being a failure, unworthy of love and not good enough. This, in the cycle of addiction is entirely the opposite of what is required to nurture in regards to living a healthy and happy life free from addiction, abuse and oppression. 

Another of the seemingly popular fads is to openly inflict personal castigastions, bullying and self abuse and in particular cases with unhealthy doses of splitting. Some of these methods are even created by Psychologists, albeit with questionable motives and the participants are encouraged to use a defence mechanism that in psychology is referred to as splitting. Splitting is where you identify aspects of yourself that you are uncomfortable with, so attempt to distance yourself from them, often to the point of burying them in your subconscious, because of the uncomfortable feelings that can be felt when observing them in yourself. In a healthy therapeutic relationship the psychotherapist or counsellor will work with you to help you understand why you feel these ways about yourself. This enables you to bring them into your conscious awareness and so you are then able to reintegrate these “split” off aspects of yourself, enabling you to feel more comfortable and at peace with all the aspects of yourself.

Any approach that is taken to encourage a disintegration of the self and to attack it and ridicule it is entirely unhealthy, because you are attacking and abusing yourself. This inevitably leads to lower levels of self respect which manifests into further and ever deepening levels of self abuse and in this way creates a self perpetuating and deepening cycle of self abuse. This cycle of self abuse if left unchecked can often lead to not only a perpetuation of the behaviours that are attempting to be addressed, but could even lead to a worsening of the situation, such as seeking ever more abusive ways in which to treat oneself. 

The ways in which we talk to and see ourselves is of fundamental importance to our mental health. The exploitations such as the ones above will inevitably create an almost endless cycle of repeat customers, which is great news for the profits of the companies delivering such methods, but will rarely if ever, result in a positive and lasting change for the participants.  

As with so many things, to find a long lasting definable resolution requires personal understanding, because each of us do what we do and act as we act for our own personal reasons. Many of these will be similar to others in many respects, but how we deal with them will come from personal insight. This on the face of it may seem the more challenging option, but when you weigh up the other options, such as the perpetual downward spiral of disappointment and self abuse as felt from the examples above, against the contrast of a happier, healthier and more vibrant you delivered through a journey of actual self discovery, the choice seems a little clearer. 

Learn How to Stop Binge Eating

To understand what drives us to continue doing something, including actions that we would like to stop doing, it is important to understand that our brains respond to stimuli and when we are talking about addictive behaviour, we are referring to the way our brains are responding to certain stimuli. So, If you want to change a response, such as reaching for the biscuits whenever you feel upset, for example, it is necessary to consciously develop a new reaction to the feeling of being upset.

To do this effectively and meaningfully it is important to understand how our neural pathways are created in the brain; if a person behaves or responds to certain situations, emotions or events in the same manner over a long period of time, eventually that person builds a neural pathway so that when the activating stimulation presents itself again, the brain automatically returns to that response, because this is now an unconscious reaction. This is how behaviour is formed and this is how addiction is formed.

It is also important to understand that we are dealing with very strong neural connections that formed in the brain over a long period of time. That’s why it seems so difficult to change things about ourselves. The stronger the neural connections, the harder it will be to create new ones that are strong enough to override the old ones. The good news however, is that the brain is malleable and can be changed. This is known as neuroplasticity which sounds more sinister than it is.

As humans, we have the unique ability to stand back and observe what is happening in our personal lives. We are not our emotions, we are not our thoughts and we are not our behaviours. We have emotions, we have thoughts, and we have behaviours and what’s more, we can actually stop to observe each of these within us.

Likewise, we are not addiction. We can have an addiction and we have the ability to observe an addiction. Once we acknowledge this and believe we have the power to consciously rewire our brain, we can begin noticing our triggers. We can identify our compulsions and urges and we can learn to override these urges by making alternative choices and taking different actions or responses to them.

There are generally four components of our addictions; doing, thinking, feeling and physiology.

This is the action you physically perform, such as opening the biscuit tin.

These are the thoughts we have to justify our behaviour, such as “I have worked really hard today, I deserve these biscuits” or “I’ve eaten five already, one or two more won’t make a difference” or “I’ll run longer on the treadmill tomorrow to burn them off.”

This is the emotion we get as a result of the thoughts we have just had to justify the ‘doing’. In the case above, you might feel happy or excited after having convinced yourself that what you’re about to do is okay and justified.

This is the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These neurochemicals are released as a consequence of the behaviour we just engaged in.

These neurotransmitters create a feeling of pleasure and gratification but we eventually build up a tolerance for them and therefore require more and more extreme behaviour to get the same neurochemical response. To explain, this means that, whereas 5 biscuits may have satisfied you enough last week, as your tolerance levels to the neurotransmitters increase, this week you may require 8 biscuits to experience the same feeling of pleasure and gratification. The more you do this, the more that neural pathway is strengthened and the stronger this pattern of behaviour becomes.

So how do we break this cycle? Most importantly it is necessary for you to acknowledge that a behaviour change is required and then it is important for you to make the decision to want to change this behaviour. For those of you who follow our blogs, you would have already seen our article on ‘6 Steps on How Create Real Change’

In acknowledging your desire to make a change, it is now important to change the components referred to above, that create the addiction. The first of which and the key element to this is to change the ‘doing’ component. If you are able to change the ‘doing’ such as opening the tin of biscuits, we subsequently change the thinking, feeling, and physiological components too. In order to do this however, it is important to be able to observe the thoughts and emotions that lead to the ‘doing’ aspect in the first place. Without this awareness, we won’t know when to change the ‘doing’ component.

Once you have recognised that when you are sad, you generally reach for the biscuits you can then become aware enough to look out for this trigger and your response to it. For example, if something happens and you suddenly feel sad, try to stand back and observe that emotion. Consider and examine it. Then instead of reaching for the biscuits, be deliberate in choosing a different reaction instead such as going for a walk or calling a friend for a chat. Making yourself a drink or turning to a calming App on your phone to use. If you change the ‘doing’ component, you will consequently change the ‘thinking’ ‘feeling’ and ‘physiological’ components, too.

By continuing to make these conscious decisions you will over time, change your neural pathways and before you realise it, a new habit is formed.

This is no easy task and it requires you to remain focused and to make conscious decisions, every day. The longer you do this, the easier it will become as new habits are formed, which in turn will become your unconscious patterns of behaviour. 

It takes a lot of effort to change yourself, but once you understand that you can literally train your brain to react differently you can change your neurochemical makeup and new pathways can be created until they become automatic. In that moment after you have the urge to open the biscuits and right before that behaviour is initiated, you have the ability to redirect your attention and choose a different behaviour. It is a good idea to choose ahead of time what that reaction will be so that you are prepared when the moment arrives and choose a behaviour that is realistic for you to do in that moment. The more you do this, the more you strengthen the new neural pathways and the more the old ones weaken.

Every time you practice this new behaviour, you are giving your mind the awareness of the new experience and the old pathways leading to your previous, self-destructive behaviour are diminishing.

It is not easy, it can be frustrating and it does take time so it is fundamentally important for you to be patient, persevere and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

Full of flavour and packed with nutrients, this curry is so easy to cook, it is a not only perfect for a mid-week meal, it serves well at dinner parties too.

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 60 min

Total Time: 70 min

Time to have fun

To prepare the butternut squash, cut off both ends and then peel off the skin.

Cut in half length ways  and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.

Cut the squash into cubes about 1 cm square. 

Place on a large baking sheet with a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper.

Place in the oven at 200C/400F for 30-40 minutes until soft through and starting to crisp and brown on the edges.

Whilst the squash is roasting heat a large nonstick pan (you can add the coconut oil if preferred to prevent sticking).

Add the onions to the pan and heat on a medium heat for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger.

Continue to heat for 2 minutes then add the curry powder, grand masala, cumin, tumeric and chilli Powder.

Mix well, adding a little water to the pan to prevent the ingredients from drying and burning.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave for around 10 minutes.

Add the drained chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Continue to simmer until the sauce is thick and creamy.

Add the roasted butternut squash and mix gently.

Serve over basmati rice.

To serve, we often add either thinly sliced pan fried red onion or steamed baby stem broccoli for that extra colour and crunch. 


  • Coconut Oil 1 teaspoon

    This is only to stop your food sticking to the pan, so a nonstick pan would be fine or even a splash of warm water can work just as well.

  • White Onion 1 Medium

    How large or small you cut it is up to you. We like it big and chunky.

  • Garlic 1 to 3 cloves

    Finely chopped. The amount is up to you and your personal taste.

  • Ginger 1cm cube

    Grated or finely chopped

  • Curry Powder 1.5 teaspoons

    Or more or less its your choice.

  • Grand Masala 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin 1/2 teaspoon

    For a more authentic feel you can you use seeds instead of or as well.

  • Turmeric 1/2 teaspoon


  • Chilli Powder A pinch

    Or more or less its your choice how hot you would like it.

  • Chopped Tomatoes 1 can

    Or equivalent amount fresh if you like.

  • Coconut Milk 1 can

    Or equivalent sized carton

  • Vegtable Stock 1 cube
  • Chickpeas 1 Can

    Or equivalent amount soaked

  • Salt and Pepper To taste

    There is no specific requirement for salt and pepper apart from to change the flavour to suit.

Optional Extras

  • Red Onion 1/2

    Thinly chopped into slices and fried for a crispy garnish.

  • Baby Stem Broccoli

    Steam 3-4 stems of broccoli per person to serve on top of the curry.