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Staying hungry

Staying hungry

This weeks newsletter explores the recent research that suggests intermittent fasting may be good for us.  I take a brief look at the medical evidence for this, then consider why, psychologically, it might be a good for us and why its good for the planet.

A bit of the science
Scientists are uncovering evidence that short periods of fasting, if properly controlled, could achieve a number of health benefits as well as potentially helping the overweight.  Calorie restriction, eating well, but not much, is one of the few things that has been shown to extend life expectancy, at least in animals. For example mice put on a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet live far longer. There is some evidence that the same is true in monkeys.

The world record for extending life expectancy in a mammal is held by a new type of mouse which can expect to live an extra 40%, equivalent to a human living to 110 or longer.  It has been genetically engineered so its body produces very low levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1, high levels of which seem to lead to accelerated ageing and age-related diseases, while low levels are protective.

The IGF-1 hormone (insulin-like growth factor) is one of the drivers which keep our bodies in go-go mode, with cells driven to reproduce. This is fine when you are growing, but not so good later in life when age-damaged cells are replicated.  There is now evidence suggesting that IGF-1 levels can be lowered by what you eat.   The reason seems to be that when our bodies no longer have access to food they switch from “growth mode” to “repair mode” – rather than replicate damaged cells, we repair them.  As levels of the IGF-1 hormone drop, a number of repair genes appear to get switched on according to ongoing research by Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California.

One area of current research into diet is Alternate Day fasting (ADF), involving eating what you want one day, then a very restricted diet (fewer than 600 calories) the next, and most surprisingly, it does not seem to matter that much what you eat on non-fast days.  Dr Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago carried out an eight-week trial comparing two groups of overweight patients on ADF.

“If you were sticking to your fast days, then in terms of cardiovascular disease risk, it didn’t seem to matter if you were eating a high-fat or low-fat diet on your feed (non-fast) days,” she said.

An alternative to is an easier version, the so-called 5:2 diet. As the name implies you eat normally 5 days a week, then two days a week you eat 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 calories, if you are a man.  People who experienced this diet had improvements in blood markers, like IGF-1, glucose and cholesterol, as well reduced body fat statistics.

Although there are few long term studies on this sort of diet we can look at the experience of Norwegians during the second world war and Cubans after the fall of the Soviet Union (resulting in a reduction in the subsidy they received).  Both populations experienced dramatic falls in their calorie intake and both experienced a huge improvement in their wellbeing statistics.

The psychology of hunger
All the major religions have fasting as a core element of their spiritual and wellbeing practices.  One of the most interesting findings from the fasting research is that people seem to get smarter ie., they are quicker at solving problems and have improved recall. Why? Perhaps it’s because our brains are designed to work well when we strive.  We get up in the morning to find food, acquire material possessions for warmth and protection and to look for sex to replicate our genes. We are also looking for meaning in life, looking to acquire knowledge and finding ways to help others.

So perhaps in the same way that we learn to restrict our diet we need to explore how to stay hungry in our career, in our love lives and how to stay open to new experiences, travel and friendship. Maybe people get old quickly when they become too satisfied in each area of their lives.  In Positive Psychology we often measure people’s wellbeing levels by asking them how satisfied they are with their lives and we design interventions to help people to become more satisfied. Maybe we need to explore the power of restlessness and dissatisfaction to inspire growth and change?

The thing is, restlessness and dissatisfaction just don’t sound right.  Somehow we need to cultivate a mindset of inner contentment whilst retaining an ambitious, engaged action orientated outlook – a difficult balancing act!  In the yoga sutras the teaching is to keep your feet on the ground whilst striving to be as tall as you can.  You work as hard as you can but you don’t overly attach to the fruits of your labours and outcomes.

A health planet
Approximately 100 million people in the US and 150 million in the EU are obese.  Child deaths through malnutrition in 2011 were six million.

The food industries in the US and Europe are not controlled by evil people, but they are businessmen who want to sell us as much as possible at as high a margin as possible.  To do this they have to sell highly processed food made from the cheapest ingredients.  They take corn, (which is an ingredient in virtually every product we buy in a supermarket), add sugar, salt and fat, make it look attractive and sell it to us.  This attractive looking stuff is served up in lovely packaging which builds our food cravings.

This kind of food robs our energy (because we eat too much of it) and robs the futures of the malnourished.  Imagine the boost to global human energy if we distributed food fairly and ate foods that were not deconstructed and reconstructed into stuff so far removed from its original source (sunshine).

Lots of love,


How to develop a healthy attitude to food

This week we continue our posts contributed by guest editors who are also wellbeing professionals.  Charlotte Style, author of “Brilliant Positive Psychology” reminds us of the common-sense fact that kindness and happiness go hand-in-hand and suggests ways to become both kinder, and happier! 

Food is one of life’s best pleasures- are you appreciating and savouring what and how you eat?
A young man on his gap year teaching in India was struggling to connect to the children on his first day. As he groped for a subject, he asked ‘who likes food?’ The class erupted with excitement and he thought he’d cracked it. His next question, ‘what is your favourite food?’, completely baffled them.


 We have so much food, and choices of types of food, in the West that we have lost the concept of food as something that keeps us alive. What we do have are  unending amounts of research and information on what foods are best for health, happiness and energy. We devote hours of television time watching chefs cooking ever more exotic and exciting recipes and buying an unlimited number of books and magazines on the subject of food. Research shows that we are living longer and healthier but we are also getting fatter and suffering from more diabetes, coronary disease and cancer in the developed world than ever before. We know the effects of an unhealthy diet and yet we continue to eat and drink unhealthily. So much unhappiness is connected to our bodies and what we put into them that there is obviously much more to it.



 All food is good for us in moderation. What is not good for us is too much worry about what we are or are not eating. We can get all the information and spend hours buying the right things but the process of doing this can be stressful and all the benefit of eating the right stuff is lost to the anxiety. If food is something that controls us it becomes a cause of unhappiness. The same is true when food becomes a substitute for other pleasures and needs, an addiction that we can retreat into.
Love your body as much as the food that feeds it.
When did you last stand naked in front of a mirror and really look at yourself? I am old enough for this to be much harder than it was 20 years ago. We live in a youth-obsessed culture and as we get older we can be made to feel that the natural changes to our bodies should somehow be overcome, hidden and even denied. The sexiest people are all shapes, sizes and ages – what they share is confidence and delight in themselves and their bodies.
Really sexy people are at ease with their bodies.
Everybody has flaws and imperfections. If you focus on your physical flaws rather than seeing what is beautiful about yourself, you will stop enjoying your full physical potential. Eating and body image can become so distorted that pleasure in a body that can run, jump and dance is lost along with the pleasure of eating. If you are young, be grateful for your body now. In 20 or 30 years you will long to have it again.


 Food is a pleasure and preparing food is a wonderful way to be mindful and present. Eating with other people is the best way to savour both food and company. The beginning of friendship normally starts with sharing a meal, in fact it is very unlikely that you have any significant relationships with someone you haven’t eaten with.
Here are some ways to eat well for a healthy mind AND body


  • Eat fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Make time to cook; cooking your own food is healthier not just because the ingredients are better but the time you spend preparing it can be mindful or social.
  • Eat more slowly and relish your food. Take time to really enjoy and savour your food. Deny yourself nothing but take longer eating and relishing what you are eating. Notice what the food tastes of and how it feels in your mouth.
  • Eat what you enjoy; keep portions moderate but don’t deny yourself the pleasure of eating.     Eat with someone else.
  • Eat better snacks; nuts, dried fruit or home-made pop corn.
  • Have regular meal times.
  • Bring colour to your plate.
  • Take a minute to be grateful for your food and the body it feeds.
  • Don’t see food as a problem, see it as the source of life that it is.
  • Try finding five physical aspects of yourself that you like, and really take note of what people compliment you for.


Why not give your body a good clean out now and then? Fasting every once in a while is very good for clearing your system both physically and mentally and is still used as a spiritual practice.


Alternatively give yourself a mindful eating exercise:

Take a piece of chocolate and eat it as slowly as you can, let it melt on your tongue and stay in your mouth as long as you can. Enjoy this exercise with a friend!

Chatlotte is a member of the Breathe London wellbeing team.  Read about nutrition therapy at Breathe by going to

Nutrition Therapy

Breathe London is mainly known as a high quality provider of Sports & Deep Tissue massage, Acupuncture and Positive Psychology coaching.  We now have a team of 12 wellbeing experts dealing with therapies for body and mind.

This week we are introducing Jo Lewin,   our nutrition expert.  To book a consultation with Jo, go to

Nutrition Therapy

We are all individuals with individual lifestyles and nutritional needs. Information about diet and healthy eating is plentiful, but so are the myths, making it hard to know what’s right for you. Nutritional therapy aims to help you understand how your current diet and lifestyle may be contributing to your health concerns. It takes a natural approach in helping your body get the nutrients it needs from food to function at its beaming best. Nutritional therapists recognise that everyone’s needs are unique and therefore all dietary recommendations are tailored to your individual requirements based on your medical history and health concerns.

Nutritional Therapy may benefit a wide range of conditions including:

• Weight management
• Digestive disturbances – bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, IBS
• Blood sugar imbalances – irritability, cravings, energy levels
• Cardiovascular health – high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• Depression, low moods, anxiety
• Pregnancy, fertility, conception
• Menopause, PCOS, PMS
• Immune function – avoid colds and flu
• Food allergy or intolerance
• Stress, insomnia
• Skin – acne, eczema, psoriasis
• Behavioural problems in children

The initial consultation will be spent gathering a detailed case history from you to help understand your nutritional needs. From this an evidence based, personal nutritional plan will be put together for you to take away and follow. This programme aims to be realistic, achievable and compatible with your lifestyle. I will give you practical advice about food and cooking, allowing you to easily incorporate recommendations into your daily life. Follow up consultations may be advisable.

By making nutrition simple and accessible, my aim is to remove the myths and confusion surrounding food, thereby promoting healing, balance and optimal health.
Jo Lewin
Nutritional Therapist
07739 118236

Healthy Eating: Avocados

A few fast facts and a fab little recipe!

  • Avocados are a fruit from the Lauraceae family which also includes cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel.
  • Grown in the sub tropical regions of South America, there are two types commonly available in Britain: the Hass variety – with a darker, more nobbly skin, and the Fuerte variety – brighter green with a smooth skin.
  • They contain the super-nutrient beta-sitosterol, which naturally helps to lower cholesterol.
  • But aren’t they packed with calories? Avocadoes do have a high oil content, but it’s mainly the ‘good’ monounsaturated type, and half an average avocado only gives you 137 calories, which is less than 2 digestive biscuits!
  • What else do they give us? Weight for weight, avocados are incredibly nutrient rich, topping the charts among the fruits for folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E. They are also great for B vitamins and fibre.
  • Avocados are packed with lots of potentially cancer-fighting supernutrients called antioxidants such as ferulic and gallic acid. They are also rare source of pre-formed glutathione, a crucial detoxing antioxidant.

Quick serving idea: The green buttery flesh of an avocado is versatile and tasty. Why not try making avocado hummus – a nutritious snack, high in protein (from the chickpeas) and the benefits of avocado mentioned above. Serve with warm pitta bread or some fresh crunchy crudités such as carrots and celery for a snack or with a classic crispy jacket potato.

For further advice or Nutritional Therapy consultations at Breathe click here 

Madeleine, Charlotte, Erika and Andy offer Life coaching, Positive Psychology Coaching, Personality testing and Hypnotherapy – Breathe Coaching

In the workplace we run corporate wellbeing events, emotional intelligence coaching and stress management – Breathe Psychology at Work

Keith and Andy provide Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation courses – Breathe Yoga & Tai Chi

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Eat The Seasons: May & June

Eating food that is ‘in season’ is sensible. The food is more likely to have been grown locally and therefore carries less of a ‘carbon footprint’ in its journey from the field or farm to your fork. For the ethical consumer seasonal eating is often associated with a fairer price for both growers and is considerably cheaper for the consumer as you avoid paying a premium for food that has travelled a long way. Most importantly seasonal food is fresher and so tends to be tastier and is certainly more nutritious.

On your shopping list during May and June, try to look out for:

  • Asparagus – gorge while you can as the season is short and try to avoid imported asparagus. Look for freshly – cut, firm spears with tight buds. You could try roasting until crispy on the BBQ!
  • Sorrel – a gift for the cook, with its refreshing acidity. Toss small leaves into Spring salads, wilt into risottos or include in a sauce to complement fish.
  • Artichokes – require a bit more time in preparation but worth it when you pull off a succulent leaf and dip it in hollandaise or vinagrette. Artichokes are high in vitamin C and have significant liver protecting and regenerating effects.
  • Strawberries – a key component of the typical British summer, strawberries are best enjoyed with a drizzle of cream or creme fraiche. Their vibrant red colour is down to the flavanoids – valuable antioxidants. Why not try picking your own at certain sites across the UK.
  • Cherries – cherry orchards used to liven up our landscape; now we import nearly 95% of the fruit that we eat. Support the remaining growers – farmers markets are your best bet and look out for the darker shades as they have a higher concentration of flavonoids.
  • Gooseberries – a quintessential British crop but rarely in the supermarkets. Preserve as a relish, simmer for a sauce or add to a classic sponge pudding. Look out for red and dessert varieties, sweet enough to be eaten out of your hand.

Also in season are early carrots, courgettes, fennel, samphire, broad beans, damsons, elderflower, peas and watercress.

Jo offers one to one nutrition therapy – Breathe Nutrition therapy

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Nutrition Myths Explored #1: Eggs

I am often asked questions by both clients and friends regarding the validity of nutritional information picked up through the media, here say etc. Although nutritional advice is abundant, sadly so are the myths and this can lead to confusion. The most recently discussed issue has been that of eggs and the question posed by a friend was this: ‘ Aren’t eggs bad for you?’  Here I hope to provide an explanation…..

Eggs are an excellent source of Vitamin K and a very good source of all the B Vitamins, including biotin, thiamine and Vitamin B12. One egg contains around 78 calories, 6.3g of protein and 1.6g of saturated fat. Some eggs now contain omega-3 fatty acids (depends on what the chickens have been fed). Eggs are regarded a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all 8 essential amino acids (the ones we cannot synthesise in our bodies and must obtain from our diet).

For years eggs have been considered more of a health risk than a healthy food. They were tarred with the ‘high cholesterol’ brush. But it turns out the cholesterol content for which they have been vilified is much lower than it was 10 years ago – a whole 13% lower according to a US Government survey. This reduction has be attributed to the changes in hen feed since the BSE crisis in the Nineties. British research shows that a medium egg contains about 100mg of cholesterol, a third of the 300mg recommended daily limit. Also it is saturated fat in the diet, not dietary cholesterol that influences blood cholesterol levels the most. In a study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association it was shown that people who reported eating four eggs per week had a significantly lower mean serum cholesterol concentration that those who reported eating one egg per week.

Not only that but eggs contain more Vitamin D than they did ten years ago, which helps to protect bones, preventing osteoporosis and rickets. And they are filling too. A recent study by Surrey University found that eating one or two eggs for breakfast could help with weight loss as the high protein content makes us feel fuller for longer. Eggs should be included as part of a varied and balanced diet. Opt for the free-range variety and ensure they are cooked thoroughly to minimise risk of Salmonella.

Quick serving idea: For a healthy southwestern-influenced breakfast, add 1-2 diced jalapeño peppers (removed seeds and pith) to 4 scrambled eggs. Divide into two portions and serve each with 1/2 cup black beans and 2 steamed tortillas. Top with a small dollop of low-fat, organic sour cream and 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander.

For further advice or Nutritional Therapy consultations at Breathe click here 

Madeleine, Charlotte, Erika and Andy offer Life coaching, Positive Psychology Coaching, Personality testing and Hypnotherapy – Breathe Coaching

In the workplace we run corporate wellbeing events, emotional intelligence coaching and stress management – Breathe Psychology at Work

Keith and Andy provide Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation courses – Breathe Yoga & Tai Chi

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About the values and ethos of Breathe London


This month’s wellbeing newsletter is about our ethos and why we choose to base ourselves in a community centre on the Southbank. The Colombo Centre is a not for profit organization managed by a Charitable Trust, the Jubilee Hall Trust and is overseen by a voluntary board of trustees from Coin St Community Builders.

Every pound spent by the gym members, tennis players, footballers, people coming to yoga classes and the thousands of other users of the centre is either invested back into the centre or supports local community programs. These include childhood obesity programs, youth development and many activities for the elderly in Lambeth and Southwark. All of the rental income from Breathe London is ploughed back into the centre and directly supports their wonderful programs. We are proud to play our part in drawing people to a unique wellbeing facility in Central London. We choose to base ourselves in the centre because Lambeth and Southwark has been our home for the last 15 years and we think that we thrive more when our community thrives.

We also have a unique arrangement with the therapists working  at Breathe London. Our team includes, massage therapists, acupuncturists, life coaches, nutrition therapists, yoga and tai chi teachers and hypnotherapists. When you see any of the team from Breathe, 75% of the money that you spend they keep. The remaining 25% covers our rental costs or is re-invested in our beautiful treatment rooms. This is a unique structure in London. When you go to other wellbeing practices the therapist may be receiving as little as £8 an hour.

The way we have structured the business means that every time you come for a treatment your wellbeing comes first our therapists receive a fair return for their energy and caring and your local community benefits.

To many people we are known as a problem solving sports injury clinic and acupuncture centre. However we believe that healthy bodies and minds go hand in hand and therefore also have a team of other wellbeing consultants

Madeleine, Charlotte, Erika and Andy offer Life coaching, Positive Psychology Coaching, Personality testing and Hypnotherapy – Breathe Coaching

In the workplace we run corporate wellbeing events, emotional intelligence coaching and stress management – Breathe Psychology at Work

Jo offers one to one nutrition therapy – Breathe Nutrition therapy

Keith and Andy provide Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation courses – Breathe Yoga & Tai Chi

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DETOX YOUR BODY AND MIND – 3 hour detox package for just £99!

POST-CHRISTMAS / NEW YEAR SPECIAL – We are offering a 3 hour detox package for just £99!

Start 2011 feeling great with a Breathe Detox package including:

– One hour Lymphatic Drainage to clear toxins and stimulate the immune system
– One hour Deep Tissue massage to revitalise body and mind
– One hour of one-to-one Yoga or Acupuncture to raise energy levels

Buy the detox course of treatments online and we’ll send you vouchers in the post. There is no limit on when you can use the vouchers.

Breathe at the Colombo Centre has the largest team of dedicated Sports and Deep Tissue Massage therapists in Waterloo, SE1 in the heart of the Southbank and minutes from London Bridge.

We also have a wide range of stress busting relaxing massages, Rolfing, Reiki, Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Aromatherapy Massage, Pregnancy massage, Myofascial release, Reflexology, Lomi Lomi massage and One to one Tai Chi and Yoga.

Our therapists offer treatments Monday to Friday 10am to 9pm and Saturday 10.30am to 4.30pm.

Massages usually cost £30 for 30 minutes, £50 for one hour and £70 for 90 minutes.

To meet our therapists and see our timetable, click here…
To view our range of treatments, click here…

Other lifestyle benefits can be found at

Massage Gift Vouchers

It’s easy to buy gift vouchers for a loved one or colleague through the Breathe website.

To order your voucher, or a series of vouchers for a course of treatments, simply purchase from our online Massage catalogue.

You can either pick the vouchers up from the centre or we will post them to you. Vouchers can be used for massage or acupuncture treatments. If possible, please let us know who the vouchers are for in the “Order Comments” field during the checkout process.

To read more about our range of treatments including Sports, Deep Tissue, Thai, Swedish, Reiki, Reflexology and Rolfing, go to the Massage treatments details page.

Other lifestyle benefits can be found at

£10 off weekend massage treatments

Due to demand our Saturday clinic will be open from 10.30am to 5.00pm.  For the next few weekends all treatments will be £10 off our normal rates.  This week Claudia is offering Sports & Deep Tissue Massage, Swedish massage, Thai massage and Lymphatic drainage.  Our normal rates are £30 for 30 minutes and £50 for 1 hour.  Next weekend Andy will be offering Deep Tissue massage, Swedish massage, Lomi Lomi massage and Reiki.  To book either mail us back or call the Colombo Centre on 0207 261 1658

To buy Christmas gift vouchers or courses of massage for a friend go to

Breathe Massage Courses . You can share courses with friends and colleagues and save up to 35% off our standard prices




FED UP with not being ‘in control’ of your life?


TIRED of going around in circles?


WISH you had more time with family or friends?


WISH you had more time to do what you love doing?


LOVE your job but don’t have a life?


Answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions and genuinely want to change your life, then book yourself on one of my FREE 2-Hour Life Strategies Workshops. Find out why you get ‘stuck’ and how coaching empowers you to get‘unstuck’ and begin to live the life you deserve.


The 2 hour Life Strategies Workshop will enable you to:


·      Clarify what’s most important to you in your life


·      Discover what changes you want to make and where you want to get to


·      Identify what’s holding you back from making permanent changes


·      Learn simple strategies to begin to live the life you deserve


·      Feel more confident about how to implement and use these strategies


·      Explore options for future coaching and NLP group workshops


Workshop Date:


Saturday 20 November from 2-4pm.


The Vestry, Holy Trinity Church, Clapham Common. Closest Tube Clapham Common, Northern Line. Spaces limited. Pre-registration required call Ami on 07718 341 531