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Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?

What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:

We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at

Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.

5 easy steps to improve your emotional hygiene

You're probably thinking 'What the heck is emotional hygiene? And why is a dietitian talking about that???'

Just like dental hygiene involves brushing our teeth daily and personal hygiene involves showering every day, emotional hygiene is about taking care of our psychological health through simple daily habits that monitor and address psychological wounds when we sustain them.

The reason I am addressing emotional hygiene is that when you don't, your psychological health is bound to suffer and when that happens, your immune system slowly gets impaired making you more vulnerable not only to the common cold but also to gut issues.

Have you ever faced failure or rejection? Did you ever notice that this came hand in hand with digestive distress like heartburn, diarrhea or constipation? The reason is something called the brain-gut axis - what this means is that, if your brain (emotional) health is suboptimal, this will have repercussions on your gut health. (The opposite is also true - research suggests that an unbalanced gut flora often paves the way for depression!) And one of the side-effects of an unhealthy gut is having trouble managing body weight.

So if you're trying to improve your health, remember to also address your psychological health. Here's how to get started:

  1. Practice emotional first-aid.
    Let's say you cut your hand while cooking. You'd probably automatically clean the wound and band-aid it, right? The same should be true if you find yourself hurting emotionally for several days due to failing at something, rejection, a bad mood or anything else. Some emotional first-aid techniques are outlined below.
  2. Take care of your emotional wounds.
    Many of us have a hard time dealing with failure and the consequence is that it makes us lose confidence in ourselves, leading to feelings of helplessness that only increase the likelihood that we will fail again in the future. Next time you experience a failure or rejection, why not practice emotional first-aid and then analyze objectively what made you fail (was it a lack of sleep or perhaps waiting too long to voice out your opinion?) so that you can be proactive about it?
  3. Shield your self-esteem.
    Your self-esteem is what makes you emotionally resilient. Negative self-talk is what damages your self-esteem and brings you down. One way to overcome this is to practice self-compassion whenever you're criticizing yourself. If this happens, talk to yourself as if you were one of your good friends. Or simply write an email expressing compassion and support and read it as many times as you need.
  4. Be conscious of ruminating.
    Thinking about upsetting events is natural but when we keep on playing them on a loop in our minds, that's called ruminating. Besides making us feel stuck and frustrated, ruminating also messes with our psychological well-being and our physical health putting us at greater risk of weakening our immune system. Ruminating also paves the way for heart disease, digestive issues and clinical depression. And let's not forget that ruminating seriously hampers our problem-solving skills. Next time you find yourself ruminating about something, if possible, try to engage in a task that requires concentration (like crosswords for instance). Research suggests that only two minutes of distraction can reduce the urge to focus unhealthily on negative stuffs.
  5. Don't be scared to ask for help and support.
    Some people consider asking for help as a weakness. I believe that seeking help is a heroic step because you're strong, smart and brave enough to acknowledge that you cannot possible do everything on your own.

Submitted by: Shari

Feel free to post about your own journey with Health At Every Size, any questions you may have or suggestions for future topics on our Facebook page or our Forums. Shari also has her own Facebook page .

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