There are no rules! The best way to use Soul Nutrition is to trust your intuition and start with the section that you are most drawn to, without thinking about it too much. You can then explore the rest of the support tools whenever you are ready. Once you start to enter information into the spaces provided, remember to click “Save” when you are prompted to do so, which means that you can stop and then come back at any time to edit or continue. Sometimes it is good to take time out to think away from the screen, and you are never under any obligation to complete a section that you prefer to leave blank or partially completed.
The Happiness Calendar is quick to use, and many people use this section every day to help them focus on the positive aspects of life. Calendar view enables you to look back over time and remind yourself of the happy memories that you are building up.
SHIFT is an online life coaching model that takes you through a number of steps so that you can explore how to shift things around in your life in order to achieve a better balance. Once you have entered your strengths into the first tag cloud you will be reminded of one of them at random each time you log back into the site, so even completing the first screen here will be worthwhile.
Nourish is a reflective food diary, enabling you to explore your unique mind-body-food connections. Benefits can be gained from using this in a relaxed way, perhaps for 5 days out of 7, so that it does not get in the way of your enjoyment of food. However it is entirely up to you to find a way of using Nourish that enhances your well-being in the best way possible, so play around with it and see what works for you. You can create a read-only link from this section to share with anyone who is helping you to improve your health.
If you would like some inspiration on subjects related to food and well-being, you may like to follow our blog or link up on Facebook and Twitter:
Food, health and happiness are interconnected by our perceptions, beliefs and biology. The dynamic relationship between nutritional and positive psychology strategies to enhance well-being provides an inspiring topic for workshops, seminars and lectures.
Many people know what they should be eating, but somehow can’t seem to make it happen. Others are overwhelmed by conflicting messages in the media and don’t know where to start. Do you know what drives your food choices and understand how to break the negative cycle of being too busy to eat, then too exhausted to cook and too stressed to digest?
Soul Nutrition can tailor presentations to the exact requirements of your educational or corporate organization, covering areas such as:
- Understanding which foods supply the biochemical building blocks for the neurotransmitters that make us happy, improve memory, enable us to remain calm and rational under pressure, and ultimately to flourish
- Appreciating why food cravings change under different emotional influences, and learning how to support ourselves with simple, easily achievable nutritional strategies so that we react more positively to life challenges
- Learning how to use positive psychology techniques to help unravel the complex interplay between emotions and food choices and move forwards into a happier future
A minimum of 10% net profits from Soul Nutrition will be donated to brain cancer research and support projects undertaken by the charity Astro Fund.
You can find out more about their work at www.astrofund.org.uk and if you wish to,
you can make a direct donation to Astro Fund.
There are over 100 different types of brain tumour, some of which are easily curable. Unfortunately, a low-grade glioma (LGG) brain tumour is not. Depending on the size, type and grade of LGG that you have, your prognosis is 5, 10, 20 years or more… but nobody can tell you exactly. At first it grows slowly, but at any point it could start to give you symptoms ranging from seizures and physical disabilities to personality changes. One day it may well become malignant, but perhaps not. Either way, the surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy you will be offered is likely to extend your life, but it cannot save it.
The diagnosis of a LGG therefore brings with it a huge challenge: what do you do with your life now? What are your priorities? How will you manage to find happiness, hope and fulfilment under such circumstances?
Soul Nutrition is inspired by the amazing people who have shared their hopes, dreams, fears, inspirations, darkest moments and greatest joys with Astro Fund. A brain tumour diagnosis makes us question our priorities in life and encourages us to shift things around so that we can spend more time on the things that are really important, not on what society tells us is important. We draw closer to the good people in our lives, welcome wonderful new people in as we meet them, and move away from those who do us harm. It helps us to find inner strengths that we never knew we possessed, and as we are forced through circumstances to use those strengths we can find increased self-esteem if we also learn to be kinder to ourselves, to recognise our limitations but praise ourselves for our ability to change and grow. Often the answer is to find meaning, purpose and happiness in what we initially perceive to be the small things in life.
I dedicate this website to the life of Paul Chamberlain, husband to my sister Emma, father to Ben and Lexy, and uncle to Jack and Freddie. He hoped that Astro Fund would be a light in the darkness for the low-grade brain tumour community. I hope that Soul Nutrition helps that light to shine further than he ever imagined possible.
Founder of Astro Fund & Director of Soul Nutrition
The design is based on the well researched concept of gratitude diaries, which have been shown to help lift depression4, increase self-esteem5 and even improve people’s levels of satisfaction with their body shape and size, which can help develop a more positive relationship with food amongst those with a history of eating disorders6. The experience of noticing and being watchful for the positive aspects of life helps us stay “in the moment” instead of being distracted by thoughts of the past or future7, thus supporting a mindful approach to life and a greater feeling of connection to the world around us8. To “count our blessings9” sounds like an old-fashioned approach, but a huge body of scientific evidence now shows that this mindset starts a positive cycle of emotion that increases the frequency, intensity, breadth and depth of gratitude and well-being experienced over time.10
By being able to track your mood states through the colour representation of the Manchester Colour Wheel, you may become more comfortable about the inevitable ebb and flow of emotion and see that it is possible to find moments of happiness even on the worst of days; or you can use other elements of the website to shift things around in your life to experience happiness and appreciation more often. This is likely to reduce worry about what the future may hold11 and enable you to enjoy the present more12.
Begin your 30 day Trial now about M'cr Colour Wheel
4 Meyer.B., Berger.T., Caspar.F., Beevers.C.G., Andersson.G., Weiss.M.(2009) Effectiveness of a novel integrative online treatment for depression (Deprexis): randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2009 May 11;11(2):e15.
5 Moritz.S., Kelly.M.T., Xu.T.J., Toews.J., Rickhi.B.(2011) A spirituality teaching program for depression: qualitative findings on cognitive and emotional change. Complement Ther Med. 2011 Aug;19(4):201-7.
6 Geraghty.A.W., Wood.A.M., Hyland.M.E.(2010) Attrition from self-directed interventions: investigating the relationship between psychological predictors, intervention content and dropout from a body dissatisfaction intervention. Soc Sci Med. 2010 Jul;71(1):30-7. Epub 2010 Mar 23.
7 Tolle.E. (2005) The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Novato, New World Library and Vancouver: Namaste Publishing
8 Thien-An.T. (1975) Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice Berkeley: Dharma Publishing
9 Emmons R.A., McCullough M.E. (2003) Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89.
10 McCullough, M.E., Emmons,R.A. & Tsang.J. (2002) The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-117
11 Gilbert.D.T., Pinel.E.C, Wilson.T.D., Blumberg.S.J., Wheatley.T.P. (1998) Immune Neglect: A Source of Durability Bias in Affective Forecasting Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75 (3), 617–38.
12 Froh.J.J., Sefick.W.J., Emmons.R.A. (2008) Counting blessings in early adolescents: an experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. J Sch Psychol. 2008 Apr;46(2):213-33. Epub 2007 May 4.
So often we are focussed on some distant, vaguely unattainable goal which we believe will bring us happiness; a better job, bigger car, new house, better looks, more perfect relationship…… but despite sometimes being achieved these are all too easily replaced by the next goal, and the next. Caught in the midst of often conflicting beliefs about what “could” and “should” make us happy, it becomes hard to even identify appropriate goals to chase, and so we commit ourselves to a life where happiness is always out of reach13.
The SHIFT section of Soul Nutrition is inspired by the transformative effects of focussing on strengths and talents that you already possess, a technique widely used in the fields of life coaching14 and positive psychology15. By combining this with identifying what already makes you happy, it grounds you in the present and enables you to identify how you can shift things around in your life so that you play to your strengths and experience moments of happiness more often.
This positive emphasis enables you to focus on the times in life when you experience “flow”, those wonderful moments when you become completely engaged and happy in what you are doing and feel totally aligned with your true self. In other words, when you are doing something that uses your strengths and talents and challenges you enough to stop you being bored, but not so much that you are anxious16. This could be times which give you a sense of purpose and meaning in life whilst doing something creative or active, interacting with other people, or performing well at work17. How can you shift things around in your life to experience more moments of “flow”?
Begin your 30 day Trial now
13 Noddings.N. (2003) Happiness and Education Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
14 Thomas.W., Smith.A. (2004) Coaching Solutions: Practical Ways to Improve Performance in Education Stafford: Network Educational Press
15 Seligman.M.E.P. (2011) Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being New York, Free Press: Simon & Schuster Inc
16 Csikszentmihalyi.M. (2002) Flow: The Psychology of Happiness London, Rider: Random House Group
17 Diener.E. & Biswas-Diener.R. (2008) Happiness:Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth Malden: Blackwell Publishing
Food provides the vital building blocks that enable us to build the hormones, neurotransmitters and other chemical messengers that help us to cope with modern life and make the most of any psychological tools that we use18 – so if we eat well we are better equipped to feel calm, clear headed, happy and ultimately to flourish both physically and emotionally19.
Studies have shown that both children20 and adults21 find photographic food diaries quicker, easier and more accurate to complete than written versions. Regular use has been shown to support effective weight loss22, with five out of seven days of self-monitoring being claimed by some to be the most effective level of use, including over the “high risk holiday season23.” It seems that simply connecting with our food, switching off the TV, sitting at a table and noticing what we eat helps us to tune in to our bodies, relax enough to enable our digestion to work effectively, and realise when we are starting to feel full so that we automatically eat the right amount for our needs whilst enjoying the food more.
This conscious connection that we make with ourselves whilst we eat forms the basis of the growing ‘Mindful Eating’ movement, explored in many books which draw on Buddhist24, spiritual25 and secular26 inspiration in turn. The reflective element of Nourish enables you to explore the benefits of mindful eating by providing space for you to record all the elements that may be influencing your food choices, as well as the physical effects of the food itself. What happens if you choose differently? Do your mood and physical health improve or not?
You may realise that some of your eating patterns are driven by stress or other emotions that need to be considered, and that therefore you need to make some shifts in other areas of your life if you are to break the cycle of poor eating patterns.27 It could also be that making simple changes such as eating breakfast every day instead of grabbing a coffee on the run really does set you up for the day; and that choosing ‘real’ instead of ‘junk’ foods improves your mood and concentration, but if you have never had the opportunity to use foods in a functional way and notice their effects, how would you know?
If you would like some ideas to experiment with you can follow Soul Nutrition on our blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds, or browse our photo albums. We all thrive on slightly different food patterns, and I hope that Nourish helps you to discover the one that helps you as an individual to flourish, and hence to feel happier.
Begin your 30 day Trial now
18 Gibney.M.J., Macdonald.I.A, Roche.M.A.(2003) Nutrition & Metabolism: The Nutrition Society Textbook Series Oxford: Blackwell Science
19 Bland.J.S., Costarella.L., Levin.B., Liska.D., Lukaczer.D., Schiltz.B., Schmidt.M.A., Lerman.R.H., Quinn.S., Jones.D.S., (2004) Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach Washington, The Institute for Functional Medicine
20 Higgins.J.A., LaSalle.A.L., Zhaoxing.P., Kasten.M.Y., Bing.K.N., Ridzon.S.E., Witten.T.L.(2009) Validation of photographic food records in children: are pictures really worth a thousand words? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug2009, Vol. 63 Issue 8, p1025-1033
21 Heetderks-Cox.M.J., Alford.B.B., Bednar.C.M., Heiss.C.J., Tauai.L.A., Edgren.K.K. (2001). CD-ROM nutrient analysis database assists self-monitoring behavior of active duty Air Force personnel receiving nutrition counseling for weight loss. J.Am.Diet Assoc. 101: 1041–1046
22 Tate.D.F., Wing.R.R., Winett.R.A.(2001) Using Internet technology to deliver a behavioral weight loss program JAMA 285: 1172–1177
23 Boutelle.K.N., Kirschenbaum.D.S., Baker.R.C., Mitchell.M.E. (1999) How can obese weight controllers minimize weight gain during the high risk holiday season? By self monitoring very consistently Health Psychol. 18: 364–368.
24 Kabatzncik.R. (1998) The Zen of Eating New York: Perigee Books
25 Williamson.M. (2010) A Course in Weight Loss Carlsbad CA: Hay House
26 Koenig.K.R. (2005) The Rules of “Normal” Eating Carlsbad CA: Gurze Books
27 Shen.H., Wyer.R.S.Jr. (2008) The impact of negative affect on responses to affect-regulatory experiences Journal of Consumer Psychology 18 (2008) 39–48
It is interesting to note that it is possible to be too happy; we appear to need a slight sense of dissatisfaction with life to inspire us to achieve our full potential, and of course it is unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time. In one large study, students who scored themselves around 8 out of 10 for happiness went on to achieve more over the next 20 years than those who scored themselves higherA1.
Certainly in my own life I know that my greatest personal and spiritual growth has happened as a result of the toughest of experiences, but I also know that it was the moments of happiness that gave me hope for the future and pulled me through those times. Here is a quote that has sustained me for years, and helped me to become much more relaxed about the ebb and flow of life:
“Happiness is something very beautiful, just like a butterfly. On warm summer days the butterfly darts back and forth above the green grass and the colourful flowers, looking very beautiful. But one must not try to catch it, for when the butterfly is caught in the hand, it becomes no more than just an insect.....this means that we should let happiness come and go just like the butterfly. When it comes, we should just enjoy it and not try to grasp after it. And when it goes, we should watch it go calmly and peacefully; then it will come back again. If we try to grasp happiness and hold on to it forever, it will die in our hands. We must let its beauty come and go and enjoy it while it lasts. That is the way of life and the meaning of life tooA2.”
I purposely perceive each “butterfly moment” to be a sign that life is looking after me, encouraging me to hold on to a sense of belonging to this world even in the midst of the dark times, and to know that there will be days when those butterfly moments become the most dominant pattern that I can see in my life. I hope that by using Soul Nutrition you can start to see the happiness patterns that underpin your life too, and enjoy watching them come into the foreground.
Director of Soul Nutrition
A1 Diener.E., Biswas-Diener.R. (2008) Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
A2 Thien-An.T. (1975) Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice Berkeley: Dharma Publishing
About Katie Sheen, Director of Soul Nutrition
Katie began her career as a researcher for BBC Television, working on the 1990 BAFTA award winning children’s documentary series ‘Ipso Facto’ and going on to direct a number of other successful programmes over subsequent years. When her Sister’s husband was struck down with brain cancer in late 2000, she founded the charity ‘Astro Fund’, which she still runs on a voluntary basis. Highly Recommended in the ‘Best New Initiatives’ category by the Beacon Fellowship in 2007, Astro Fund has significantly increased the focus on low-grade (slow growing) brain tumours in the UK, running six patient & carer information days in partnership with NHS trusts and funding seven groundbreaking research projects so far. From 2008-2011 Katie contributed as a Patient Representative to the British Neuro-Oncology Society Advisory Group, working with the Government’s Cancer Action Team on developing new NICE clinical guidelines for rare brain tumours.
Katie is a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, currently studying for a Masters degree in Education at the University of Worcester, and already holding a Post Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. She has a Foundation Science Degree in Nutritional Therapy, and is registered with the Department of Health approved Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Katie is also a Member of the British Neuro-Oncology Society, Associate Member of the Holistic Psychology Faculty, Division of Clinical Psychology at The British Psychological Society, and Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Fascinated by how a combination of nutritional and psychological support techniques can enhance well-being, Katie delivers workshops and seminars on these and related topics for a number of corporate clients, and in academic settings including the Masters Science degree in Nutritional Therapy at the University of Worcester and CPD events for Lamberts Healthcare. Her private practice 'Soul Nutrition' is based at Alexandra Worsley Health and Wellbeing Clinic in Bramhall, Cheshire, winners of the CAM Clinic of the Year 2010.
An innovative way of assessing mood amongst various populations around the world
about M'cr Colour Wheel
Can the Soul Nutrition website change subjective markers of well-being amongst an undergraduate population?
about Soul Nutrition research