Thursday, 19 July 2018

Food and Nurturing - The Emotional Impact

Listen to the Podcast

Food and nurturing - The Emotional impact

I have always had an emotional attachment to food, which started in childhood and continued into adulthood.

As a child I didn’t think about the costs or how long and how hard our parents had to work we just saw things appear in the cupboard we didn’t see the hours/stresses or worry that our parents went through in order to provide us with the standard of living they never had.

The memories of the associations to food came upper most in my mind as mum decided she wasn't going to eat while I was feeding her at the home. This was something that began to be a regular occurrence when I was looking after her full time.  I associated this with failure and worried that she would be hungry – but the main thing was how inadequate I felt that I couldn’t get her to eat.

We grew up being told that we had to eat all the food on our plate otherwise we:

  • Wouldn’t be able to leave the table

  • Have dessert 

Both of which filled you with dread because the pudding was usually something we looked forward to after the dinner.  My mother’s homemade apple pies, cakes, crumbles were so tasty that made your toes curled when you ate them. You felt you had no choice but to eat all that we were given and it never occurred to me or anyone else that we all had the same sized plates as my dad!  As my brother got older as he was always the last to finish he learned that falling asleep at the table would get him out of eating the rest of his dinner - as the youngest we always felt that he was spoilt (smile).

Every meal was therefore set up. It is unlikely that as a child you can eat an adult sized meal and  you end up feeling full just looking at the plate.  The combination of eating all or having to stay behind when everyone else has gone makes you associate certain patterns of behavior with food.

Your Eyes too Big for your Belly! 

Digital Art - Amanda Trought

Don’t get me wrong, my mother’s food was always delicious, but when your full your full.  The saying that “your eyes are too big for your belly” was one I heard often, I would ask for more without thinking about whether I could eat it and invariably ended up eating it because I thought that if I stuffed it down it would be an achievement and they would be proud of me and I am not sure where I got that from. I remember my dad’s face the first time I overate.  He had this look on his face and seem to be beaming, but I took it to mean that he was proud of me and so would always over eat wanting to recreate that feeling. It is funny what a 10 year old thinks they see, compare to what is actually the case.


Whilst on one hand I was over eating, we didn’t lead a sedentary childhood, we were always out on our bikes or scooters. Going up to Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields to have our adventures and play.

When you think of how you grew up, what associations do you have, or have you had with food?

Take away the stress

I always thought that my son when he was little would want to eat everything that I made and when he didn’t the feelings that I was either a bad mother or couldn’t nurture started to rear its head and also appeared when I was looking after my mother. I didn’t realize at the time that my son wouldn’t starve he just didn’t want to eat at the time, mum wouldn’t starve herself, she just either didn’t want what I cooked or wasn’t ready to eat. One of the most important things that my health visitor said to me was to give my son a small plate of food, and when he ate it would not associate food with failure and I also did this with my mother and made sure I had fruits available so that they could have them if they got hungry. This made eating less stressful for all of us.

The Food Industry 

Digital Art - Amanda Trought

Food is used in an emotional way by the food industry and advertisers, making you think you are hungry, associating foods with lifestyles and for most of us we can remember times where an advert has played and we immediately want the food or the drink they have just shown. Food is used in celebration – take cake, we also use cake for consoling ourselves, and in the films you see people using ice cream to console a broken heart. In the UK the placement of food is worth millions of pounds. Food is strategically placed for maximum effect encouraging us to browse a little longer – things are moved around on a regular basis – so you can never find what you want and just nip in and out of the store. The bread and cake aisles at the back of the store wafting freshly baked produce throughout this encourages you to linger as you contemplate buying a cake to celebrate a day in the week.

Food has power, it can make us feel shame, soothed, berated, it numbs emotion, It has a way of making you feel inadequate, dependent, addicted, but it can also comfort, make us feel nourished, celebrated, and it's revered. When you have an unhealthy relationship with food brought on by layers of misunderstandings these can be the hardest associations to break. 

I will always identify some foods as comfort foods, mine are jacket potatoes, cake and custard, chocolate cake, Sunday dinners when all the family would gather and there would be laughter and fun, filling your bellies and either going out for a walk or sitting down watching a film, playing games and the washing up and going down memory lane as we laughed on into the night.

What you can do 

While I still have a connection with food I control it better now.  I make sure that I eat foods that are in as natural a state as possible, I grow my own food and I am focused on the impact of the food on my body and health. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have cake, but I am aware of the consequences of the foods that I eat, and I don’t attach any emotion to someone not eating the food I cook as anything to do with my abilities. I also look at how I can creatively express whatever emotions that I am feeling by working in my Art Journal. 


First you have to stand up and admit you have issues around food and emotion

  • Think of the reasons why this might have come about, ie something in your childhood or the way you have been brought up to view food. 

  • If you are feeling a particular emotion and want to eat something to make yourself feel better then you need to first drink some water then do some work in your art journal, just identifying what you might be feeling, how it started, and how you can use your creative tools to make you feel better rather than a slice of cake. 

  • Know that your emotional attachments can impact on your health and well-being so you need to invest in your health as there is no do over.

Check out some of my art videos and podcasts to help you spend more creative time, and remember to take some time out for you!

Check out this weeks Podcast
If you want to support me as I create Arts and Health resources, videos and tutorials for free then come over to my Patreon Page, and see how you can benefit from your support.

Stay blessed and be a blessing.

Before you go.. 

You might want to check out some of these Amazon resources if you want to look further into the emotions and food.  Click on the book to take you to Amazon

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Looking at things with New Eyes

Looking at things with New Eyes

Sometimes you have to stop, stop what you are doing and listen.  What is it that you can hear around you in your environment.  What are the beliefs that you hold about your situation or circumstances? Check out the video below for some additional insights.

Change Your Perspective

As I listen to the sounds in my enviroment I think about what I should be grateful for, and the things that I constantly take for granted.  When I listen to the sounds one of my favorite times of year is when the spring is underway and the birds seem to be singing extra loud and it is lovely.

I also like seeing the buds, those first flowers emerging from the ground or on the trees - new life emerging with the promise of fruit.  It is in those simple moments that clarity can be found.  We stop all the chatter and take stock of who we are and what we feel.

As the dementia developed in my mother I questioned the old ways of doing things that you still see in some care homes today where people are sat in a circle in chairs they can't get out of.  I am not saying all care homes, there has been a lot of changes over the years.  But people are generally of the opinion that when a person is living with dementia they become like a cabbage! (and I have heard a person talk about their own mother in this way)  I also heard a massage therapist while she was massaging a residents foot that it didn't really help them because they couldn't respond.  I was flabbergasted on both occasions and told both parties about all the research done that would contradict their claims.  There is still a lot of stigma associated with the disease and people tend to keep it hushed behind closed doors.

Mum used to love art and still appreciates the effects of colour

What if you were suddenly unable to do anything for yourself speak, or move unaided, how would you want to be treated?  When you put the shoe on the other foot and imagine what what you have the ability to do now, to how you would feel if people treated you like you didn't exist because of their limited view of the benefits that you get from the interaction you might look differently.

We have to change our perspectives to many things, and shine some new light on old beliefs and looking with a set of new eyes. The quote that says 'you can't do what you have always done and expect to get different results', that would be madness - wouldn't it, but we sometimes act as if it were so.

The long and the short of it is this is not a rehearsal, we don't get a retake or do-over of our time wasted, so learn to appreciate those things that you have been taking for granted.  Look at how far you have come, celebrate those achievements and where you currently are at the moment, change what you can change as you step into what tomorrow will bring you.

There are a range of creative activities that you can also do whether you are caring for someone or not that help you express what you are going through.

Check out some of my art videos and podcasts to help you spend more creative time, and remember to take some time out for you!  

Check out this weeks Podcast
If you want to support me as I create Arts and Health resources, videos and tutorials for free then come over to my Patreon Page, and see how you can benefit from your support.

Stay blessed and be a blessing.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Caring in Dementia - Care Partnerships

Care Partnerships

When you have a loved one that you care for who is living in a care home it is vitally important that you try and arrange where possible for members of the family and friends to visit and provide additional stimulation for the person in care on a regular basis.  This some might say can only happen in an ideal situation and the way that social care is going at the moment which doesn't put the person and their needs at the center it leaves a lot to be desired.

In the video I look at what the care partnership has been like for me.  With mum in a home I paid an active part in her care, and worked out ways in which I could spend as much quality time as possible, along with other family members.

Check out the video

Check out the Podcast


Most Care homes around England have been privatized.  Councils then get charged hefty amounts each week to top up the charges that the residents pay either out of their pensions or from the sale of their home.  If you lived in rented accommodation then your contribution is usually most if not all of your state pension, depending on how much you are assessed that you need to pay.

Care homes are supposed to be monitored, but many care homes can go 1 and 3 years without having a visit from the local authority who are supposed to keep an eye on how the residents are treated, and the running of the home covering staff and more.  If there are no checks this leaves room for incidents/abuse to happen and homes continuing to operate poor standards of care with a high turnover of staff.  

I noted several online reports on the care home directory for England that show many care homes listed had not met their basic standards and had issues raised like ‘clients not receiving their medication’ or ‘no police checks done for staff so that the residents were vulnerable’ and many more things that were highlighted and the care home was left with the responsibility for making sure it met the standards next time.

Partnerships are important

I say that this is a partnership as you have to keep eye on things that are going on in the care home and raise any concerns because you don't know what is going on when you leave.  It is unfortunate if you live in a different country and therefore cannot visit on a regular basis and for many they have to trust that their loved one is receiving the care that you want them to receive.

It isn’t easy, and you have to do what you can, but you have to play a part.  The whole system needs shaking up, because more and more people are feeling isolated and unable to look after themselves and feeling abandoned while their families don't know how to relate or cope

Things to try

There are a few things to help you manage your situation especially if you have family members or friends who are not normally involved with caring for your loved one and don’t visit.
  • ·    Create a schedule for visiting – it is better that they spend half an hour 2 times a week than sporadic visits or not at all -  It is a short space of time where they will be able to do a short activity
  • ·      Ask them to perform specific tasks, create a short list of things your loved one likes doing that your family can do, activities such as going for a walk, hand or foot massage, read the paper or book out aloud, sing some songs, tell the person about the day that you have had or talk about the weather!!.
  • ·     Go through some photographs, could be a holiday or childhood images and go through together and talk about them. 
  • ·     Get some samples of herbs with a fragrance, you can also do this with oils – some common ones are Rosemary, Lavender, Orange, Chamomile and let them smell them.
  • ·     Getting other people involved in the partnership takes the strain off you and shares the load.

There is no perfect day, so even with a list of things you need to stay flexible, and go with the flow of your loved one who might not have had a good day, so may not want to go through the photographs, but might want to listen to some music from their era, or have you hold their hand while you talk to them. 

There are a range of creative activities that you can also do whether you are caring for someone or not that help you express what you are going through.

Check out some of my art videos and podcasts to help you spend more creative time, and remember to take some time out for you!  

Check out this weeks Podcast

Stay blessed and be a blessing!


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Caring in Dementia - Engagement comes in Different Forms

Engagement Comes in different forms and when you are caring for someone whose needs increase over time you need to look for new ways to help them to enjoy activities they could previously do for themselves.

In the following video I address the need to engage, and the benefits that can come for both parties if you remain flexible and spend time looking at the things that do go right and bring positive outcomes.

After spending time with my mother at the home I began to wonder about how I engage with her and whether I had been putting a limited viewpoint on her needs to fit into something that I was comfortable withWe often put our perspective on things to suit our own needs and sometimes we have to look at what is really happening what the benefits are to see if we need to have a shift in our perspective.

I use to feel that mum needed to be engaged in an activity for all her waking moments, but I began to see that while we all need to be engaged with activities at different times of the day I had to recognize that the way that mum was now communicating with me had changed and rather than rushing through a list of things I needed to give her time to enjoy and be in the moment of the activity that I was doing with her. We do this to ourselves as well - gulping down our foods, not taking time out to enjoy our surroundings, working while eating lunch at our desks - I am sure you can think of other examples.

I began to think about different things that mum enjoyed that we can often take for granted and realized there were so many things that I did with her before the dementia became so severe that I just needed to break them down into smaller steps.  I found that something as simple as massaging or just holding her hands while I spoke to her was something that she seem to enjoy – that connection through touch is probably one of the biggest things that is neglected and there are so many more things that can be done. 

As you look at your own life think about the following:

  • Are you rushing from one thing to the next, 
  • how do you see your own situation – 
  • Do you even see yourself, and give yourself time to respond to your own needs?
  • Do you walk around on automatic pilot?  
  • When was the last time you heard your own voice?  

Take some time today to recognize what needs you have and how you can address them, think about spending some time in your journal or other creative activity.

I will be sharing more about my activities with the arts and health and showing you some of the activities you can do that will have positive benefits to your own health and well-being.

I will be launching my Patreon account at the end of the week and you will be able to sign up to receive patron only posts and videos and other rewards tiers which will help support me create Art Resources that impact on health and well-being.  It would be great to have you on this journey with me.

For more commentary, check out the Podcast

Check out some of my previous posts HERE and HERE that might encourage you on your journey, and some creative activities HERE and HERE 

There is also a book you can check out below just one of the many resource you can try called Chocolate Rain - 100 Ideas for a Creative Approach to activities in Dementia Care

Stay blessed and be a blessing!

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