Food Issues May Increase Over Holidays

Presents are great, laughter with family and friends is nice, but some of us believe that the real enjoyment of the holidays is the abundance of food. Special meals and traditional dishes are prepared this time of year. Some of us are very mindful of healthy eating now, so that we may fully indulge in the sometimes not-so-healthy meals we will have over the holidays.

As our aunts, mothers, and grandmothers gather in the kitchen, (men in some families too) and create what can only be described as magical aromas, it is sometimes difficult to keep in mind that members of our family require dietary support. Not only can some of us have severe food allergies (e.g. gluten, nuts, dairy), but some of us also require a lot more TLC (tender, loving care) during the holidays. Disordered eating issues can also be worse during the holidays and family get togethers.

“As she reached puberty, her thin frame began to fill out, raising concerns about the effects of her weight gain on her performance as a gymnast. She began to restrict her intake of food, but found that after several days of semi-starvation she would lose control and go on an eating binge. This pattern of dieting and binging lasted for several months, during which her fear of becoming fat seemed to increase. At age 13, she hit on the ‘solution’ of self-induced vomiting. She quickly fell into a pattern of episodes of alternating binging and vomiting three or four times per week,” (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett, 2002).

Coping with disordered eating can be quite difficult over the holiday season.  Those suffering may feel like family members will be paying particular attention to them because they are the ones with “the problem.”  Uneasiness with meal times and menu planning is quite often present, making certain topics and particular foods become “off the table”. It may just be helpful to reduce tension by developing a “peace treaty” for the holidays, withdrawing stress raising topics and foods from the holiday menu because they are known triggers to unhealthy eating behaviours.

Over the Christmas holidays, we wish your family all the best as you cope with thoughts and situations that can easily hinder a fun-filled and relaxing holiday experience.

Should you want assistance with family relationship improvements and to recover from disordered eating patterns,  schedule your appointment for 2014 today!

Heads are leaning on heads. Bodies are squished together in small seats. Eyes are closed and heads are nodding forward. When eyes are open, we see angry faces and hear people in pissed off moods… and it’s only 7am. What is the rest of our day going to look like?

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a world of hustle. Some of us work 8-12 hour days and still have to “work” on daily family tasks when we get home. When our heads hit the pillow and we finally attain a moment of silence, we begin to process all that needs to be done for the day to come). We ask ourselves; “Where did this day go?”

So I have to ask: “Is the hustle and bustle of our lives really worth it?” We are begging for a vacation because we need that escape. We are looking for new jobs and opportunities to make our lives better (or easier). We are asking ourselves; “Does life have to be this hard?”

Stressful events and life’s hiccups are inevitable; however, how we perceive and cope with these experiences make a world of difference. Balance is an essential component to consider when we make decisions in our lives. Of course, once we make these decisions (e.g. to work here or there, to commute or not, etc.), it is important to “own them”, take responsibility for the results of our decisions and be accountable for our actions.

To attain a balanced lifestyle, we must shift our thoughts from stress and worry, to positivity and action. Staying positive is difficult to do on our own; however, building a strong connection to our higher power and with friends and family can provide us with the support we need. Action may sound tiring; however, staying active prevents doubt, builds confidence, distracts us from stressful thoughts and releases endorphins or what we like to call the “happy hormones”.

Solution-focused counselling can help us train our mind into being more positive and action focused. This form of brief-therapy is future focused, goal-directed, and centers on solutions rather than problems. To attain your goals without having to feel burdened or stressed each morning, call us today!


Bernice’s OCD began shortly after the death of her father. Since then, it had waxed and waned and currently, was as severe as it had ever been.

Bernice was obsessed with a fear of contamination, a fear she vaguely linked to her father’s death from pneumonia. Although she reported that she was afraid of nearly everything, because germs could be anywhere, she was particularly upset by touching wood and other ‘scratchy objects’. She was unable to state why these particular objects were sources of possible contamination.

Bernice tried to reduce her discomfort by engaging in compulsive rituals that took up almost all her waking hours. She spent three to four hours in the morning in the bathroom, washing and rewashing herself. Between baths, she scraped away the outside layer of her bar of soap so that it would be totally free of germs. Mealtimes also lasted for hours, as Bernice performed her rituals–eating three bites of food at a time, chewing each mouthful 300 times. These steps were meant magically to decontaminate her food. Even Bernice’s husband was sometimes involved in these mealtimes ceremonies, shaking a teakettle and frozen vegetables over her head to remove the germs. Bernice’s rituals and fear of contamination had reduced her life to doing almost nothing else. She would not leave the house, do housework, or even talk on the telephone,” (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, Flett, 2002).

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which the mind is flooded with persistent and what seems to be uncontrollable thoughts. An individual is compelled to repeat certain tasks which causes great distress and interference with everyday functioning.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be treated effectively if the treatment plan is performed in a consistent, logical and supportive manner. A person in treatment will come to realize that the fear, anxiety and all other difficult symptoms associated with an obsessive-compulsive routine can decrease and pass over time. As well, the feelings associated with OCD do not cause personal harm. This can be very difficult for a person with OCD to grasp without treatment. This person may hold on to these compulsive behaviours because it is the only way he/she has been able to cope with their obsessive thoughts, impulses and feelings. This coping mechanism, however, only provides temporary reduction of unpleasant feelings and can worsen and increase if continued. Like the story of Bernice, we come to realize how her OCD is interfering with her life as well as her husband’s.

Here are a couple key points to know about treating OCD – 
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: CBT helps people recognize the connection between thoughts, feelings and associated impulses or behaviours. Narrative theory helps people reexamine their story (i.e., a significant event in the person’s life, like Bernice’s father passing, can inform about the when and how these thoughts and behaviours initially developed) as it is related to the troubling behaviour and identify cognitive shifts helpful in changing both the narrative and, thus, the emotions and behaviours.

Behavioural contracting and changes may also be used in therapy. An agreement that compulsive behaviours will be reduced and eventually not be performed is an effective step toward reducing these behaviours. Exposure therapy and systematic desensitization approaches set in place the gradual exposure to the fear and anxiety provoking stimulus, in a safe and progressive manner, that sets the person up for success in reducing the emotional impact and related behaviours.

The combination of approaches right for each person may vary . It is important for people to connect with, negotiate changes with and work closely with a professional, registered therapist. There is no suggested or ideal length of treatment as it depends on the individual’s unique needs and goals. With consistent effort in treatment, people struggling with OCD can see progress and be able to celebrate successes.

Call us today to get more information on treating OCD, and learn how to support family members with this OCD as well.

Is Something Getting In The Way Of Your Employability?

Some of us may ask ourselves: “Has anyone noticed how difficult it is to get a job, or is just me?” We focus our attention on job searching engines for 2-3 hours every morning. We search every possible key word that can describe our field of work. If we’re lucky, we will find about 5-10 new postings a day–and we apply to them all of course. We keep track of the application deadlines and as those days approach, we are consistently checking our phones, anticipating a call for an interview. But then no phone calls come in. Days without work turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. I won’t mention what months can turn into. Are we ready to give up?

Did you know that just that simple thought, those two small words, “GIVE UP,” can hinder our ability to find work? It’s true. Even if we don’t say it out loud, when we think about those two words, our feelings change. We can become sad and depressed. We may start to think that we are not good enough.

But we ARE good enough! We’ve gone to school, we’ve gained experiences, we are talented, and our personalities are contagious. These are the thoughts we need to have in order to improve our chances of finding an employer who will be thrilled to have us join the team. These thoughts are easier said than done, especially when the credit card, mortgage, and all other bill payments are due (or past due).

How do you think counselling can help? Counselling may help us land our next job. With coaching, we can find the root to our stinkin’ thinkin’: the negative thoughts that have us discouraged and telling us to just forget it. Those thoughts did not simply emerge because we are having difficulty finding work.

Those same words came from way back in our past. At some point in our lives, we heard these thoughts, we heard examples of people “giving up”.  After that, at some point, these words turned on us as we told ourselves to give up or that we were not good enough. This stinkin’ thinkin’ has stayed with us all this time.

Counselling helps us to create new ways of thinking that improve beliefs about ourselves. Shifting stinkin’ thinkin’ in the background and bringing new positive thoughts to the foreground shifts our energy, demeanor and then the employment/career search also improves.

With help, we can learn to stay focused on the amazing qualities we have. This will increase our confidence in applying for jobs that truly interest us. Coaching will also help present the best parts of ourselves in interviews. And we will be able to celebrate our efforts and the process that gets us to our success; rather than viewing it as a struggle. If you feel other stresses are getting in the way of finding or keeping employment, and you want help –  give us a call .

I’m emotionally spent. Enough is enough. Don’t talk to me. I’m done. I’m exhausted. I feel like people and my environment are draining the life out of me.

If we can relate to any of the above statements, we may want to stop for a moment and breathe. Like this picture above of a sink drain. When we feel like we are spiraling rapidly down a small hole, it may be time to see things a little differently.

The above comments describe a state of panic and physiologically, we are doing more than just speaking out our frustrations.What do our bodies feel like when we panic? Some of our body’s responses may include increased heart rate, accelerated breathing and sweating to name a few. Share with us what your responses to panic are.

When we stop and take some time to regain our normal breath, we are taking care of our bodies, not just physiologically but mindfully as well. Being mindful is a spiritual and physiological pathway to become aware. Aware of how our body is reacting to external stressors as well as being aware of our own thoughts and feelings influencing stress on our bodies.

Mindfulness techniques involve attentive awareness of our day-to-day lives; allowing us to attain a calm awareness of our bodies, feelings and minds. A therapeutic approach of mindfulness (Bishop, et. al., 2004), involves two components:

“The first component [of mindfulness] involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness and acceptance.”

Listen to your body. If you find that you are getting sick more often than normal. If you are feeling like you’ve just had enough. If you are feeling so drained that all you want to do is sleep the day away; reach out to us today because we can help you!



Money and Mood Connection

It’s late at night, all of our daily tasks are accomplished, we lay in our bed, our heads hit the pillow, and we anticipate absolute silence, until we succumb to sleep. However we begin to toss and turn, and start to reflect on that day. We may even begin to worry about the day to come. We are bombarded with our own thoughts: “How am I going to meet that bill payment?” “What financial challenge will I face next?” “Why can’t I ever afford a vacation? Even just a small weekend getaway would be nice!” “How did I get here?”

When we are under financial strain, usually the decisions we have to make are done with feelings of stress, worry, and/or anxiety. We may sometimes assume that we will never get out of such a burden. Our hopes and dreams of a happier (wealthier) life are trampled and seem unattainable due to our current financial situation.

Although we question how we got in this situation, do we ever take the time to actually answer it? Seeking help from external, objective sources allows us to decipher the choices made. Financial difficulties may not have “all” stemmed from college tuition fees, mortgage or rent payments, or vehicle expenses. Financial difficulties can also develop from poor financial planning and decisions often driven by our own stinkin’ thinkin’.

Cognitive behaviour coaching or therapy helps trace back experiences in our lives that may be contributing to poorer decisions with money. When we consider how we, our family, especially our parents, handled financial situations, it becomes easier to clearly chart out a path toward positive change. Looking at historical financial decision-making, (cognitive loading onto our minds) allows us to to recognize certain negative patterns, thus finding  clues as to how to improve financially, also supporting change socially and emotionally. Changing those patterns is not easy, however, with coaching, support and hard work, change is possible, making financial stability attainable.

Call our Oshawa counsellors today to help you work through disruptive and even destructive patterns and achieve your financial goals today!

Managing Type 1 Diabetes is Complex!

People who have type 1 diabetes spend significant energy and time considering food, eating and energy expenditure (note: type 1  is totally different than type 2 diabetes). Paying close attention to carbohydrate intake helps more effectively determine how much insulin to take.

In addition, people with insulin-dependent diabetes check blood sugar levels regularly (between 4 and 8 times per day minimum = 1400 to 1600 X per year), and account for many other variables in order to accurately calculate the amount of insulin to be injected.

Insulin works to pick up glucose (sugar) from the blood and carry this throughout the body, providing energy to the cells. Higher blood sugar levels can lead to urinating frequently, flushing important nutrients, contributing to weight loss.  This means a person with Type 1, who does not get enough insulin will drop weight, be able to eat extra food without gaining weight or a combination of the two; eat more and even lose weight. 

Diabulimia – a rare eating disorder

The term refers to people with type 1 diabetes managing weight and body image issues through missed or reduced dosing of insulin. Research indicates prevalence rates close to 30% of people with type 1 diabetes. This disorder impacts both genders and all ages, however, there are increased prevalence rates among adolescents and females as is true with most eating disorders.

Informally named diabulimia, this disordered eating behaviour (DEB) can be quite harmful and disruptive to the daily functioning for people managing type 1 diabetes.  While this behaviour may involve intentional insulin omission, this may not always be the case. Science has more recently helped us think of the stomach is like a second brain. We also know the body and mind can develop habits that are not necessarily driven by conscious thought.

Given this knowledge, it is very important to refrain from blame in efforts to help those with this highly addictive behavioural pattern. Imagine if you could eat all kinds of food, much more than your friends, and through missing insulin not gain any weight? No purging, excessive exercise, laxative use or other behaviours required.

It is very important to watch for the following symptoms of diabulimia

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite, even binging behaviours
  • High blood glucose levels (HBA1c often higher than 10)
  • Lower energy levels
  • Lower sodium levels
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating (increased work or school challenges)
  • Severely imbalanced ketones
  • Increased mood swings (agitation, grumpy)


  • images-1If these sound familiar for you, or someone you know, it is important to seek professional help from specialized, multi-disciplinary diabetes teams which include, nurses, dietitians, doctors, social workers and others. A team approach works best for any eating disordered recovery.

Working together, the person with type 1 diabetes can develop healthier management techniques, eating patterns and mental health strategies to improve health. Including other family members can also increase the healthcare team and speed up recovery from this difficult and rare disordered eating behaviour.

For more information contact us today !