Croí Na Darach

2013-09-16 17.40.19

A Healthy Blog

Welcome to my blog


My take on health related matters, psychology and all things holistic.

By Trish Darcy, Jan 1 2017 02:00AM

They say knowledge itself is power or to be precise "ipsa scientia potestas est". Taxing sugary drinks alone won't address childhood obesity though the food industry surely needs to have a far greater level of responsibility and role with regard to food quality and marketing, and legislators also need to provide more stringent legislation and regulation with regard to food labeling and marketing.

Food is a social, health, educational, environmental as well as political issue. If we want to be serious about addressing childhood obesity & other related health conditions we must look at the bigger picture of food production, trade & management, the regulation of the food industry, food labelling and marketing. Indeed we as the consumers are not passive shoppers and ultimately we must also take a greater level of personal responsibility with regard to our food choices & our own link in the chain.

However, the reality is if you want to eat healthy it will cost you a lot more & inevitability for those with less income or in the poverty bracket food choices are often based on affordability. Poorer individuals and those with lower levels of education have the highest levels of obesity with Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure persistently higher amongst low-income social classes (Healthy Ireland Framework, 2013). From a policy perspective an inter-departmental approach must be considered in order to implement policies that will adequately address our present and future health concerns regarding obesity and related chronic health conditions.

That's why I believe we need to provide appropriate education around nutrition & healthy eating to children from the getgo. Is there perhaps a case for bringing back the now reliqueshed Domestic Science, albeit with a more appealing and relevant title and a modern flare? Educating children and indeed their parents/families on nutrition, healthy cooking, GIY foods starting at primary level would provide children with invaluable knowledge and a skill set that would be an investment into their lives now and for the future.

By including healthy eating, nutrition, and cooking skills as compulsory subjects from primary level and right throughout the educational system we will be equipping not only the future generation of consumers, but also their present day families, with the knowledge and skills to make more informed choices when it comes to food and eating. Healthy eating can be done on a budget but it is about providing the information, the science and the skills to do so. I believe our ministers for health, education, children, food, & social protection have a duty of care to the health of our nation. If we are serious about addressing childhood obesity we need to act now and act collectively.

But if we are going to be serious about addressing childhood & adult obesity and give it the due attention that it deserves then we need to also educate our doctors, nurses and consultants in nutrition at third and post graduate level. It is not good enough that those who tend to our health care needs don't have the knowledge or understanding that can treat but also prevent many chronic health conditions. GPs and public health nurses are the first port of call in most communities. They are at the point of contact where these health matters could be addressed appropiately before becoming chronic conditions by offering support and advice regarding healthy eating and dietary behaviours. Indeed linking in with specialist services such as nutritionists, healthy eating workshops, free information nights should be a part of general practice and community health services throughout the country.

Our health system, which is hugely overburdened at present, is not equipped to deal with the increasing numbers of chronic health conditions such as childhood and adult obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease or even still look to a preventative approach with regards to our looming obesity crisis. Can we even imagine what it is going to be like in 30 years time if we keep pursuing this route that we are presently on.

"The projected growth in incidence of chronic diseases will undoubtedly lead Ireland toward an unhealthy and extremely costly, if not unaffordable, future. Action is required to create change and try to address these negative health trends before our problems grow larger" (Healthy Ireland Framework, 2013).

Presently in Ireland:

* 61% of all adults and 25% of 3 year olds are overweight or obese

* 3 out of 4 people over 50 in Ireland are overwight or obese

* 26% of 9-year-olds have a body mass index outside the healthy range

* The incidence of heart disease, cancers, type-2 diabetes, (including type-2 diabetes in children and adolescents) is set to increase.

* Obesity is the leading cause of cancer in non-smokers.

So I'm all for education as an integral part of dealing with our nation's current health situation and tackling childhood obesity. Let's empower the children and adults of our nation by providing them with the knowledge to make healthier food choices and live healthier lives. But lets start with our children now and bring nutrition and healthy eating into the classrooms, into their homes, and into their lives.


"Healthy Ireland Framework"

By Trish Darcy, Jan 1 2017 02:00AM

Chronic stress has been shown to have negative outcomes on health with increased risks for the development of chronic health conditions such as CVD, auto-immune disease, diabetes, and cancer (Cohen et al., 2007).

Our modern fast-paced lifestyles have resulted in an increased exposure to a myriad of stressors including environmental stress (noise and air pollution, technology), lifestyle stress (longer working hours, highly processed foods, sedentary lifestyles), and personal stress (job insecurity, financial debt). In addition, more than half the world’s population and over 70% of Europe’s population now reside in an urban environment (Dye, 2008), with social stress and mental ill-health increasingly associated with urban living (Lederbogen et al., 2011, Peen et al., 2010). This impact of acute and chronic stress can result in depletion and the development of chronic health conditions over time.

The HPA axis plays a central role in maintaining homeostasis in the body, of which the hypothalamus is the main control centre and is directly influenced by stress. Cortisol is the main hormone produced by adrenal cortex in response to stress, and which negatively inhibits both the Hypothalmus and the Pituitary gland in the brain. The HPA axis has been shown to respond differently during chronic stress according to the type of stressor and make-up of the person (Kudielka et al., 2009). Stressors that are experienced as uncontrollable, traumatic, or threaten physical integrity typically result in an abnormal stress response as indicated by cortisol.

Stress interventions, such as exercise and meditation, play a pivotal role in stress management as they modify the biological response of cortisol which in turn can prevent the deterioration of health or the development of other health conditions.

By Trish Darcy, Jan 1 2017 02:00AM

Throughout our lives we make what is known as the Faustian bargain where we present the acceptable parts of ourselves to the world and conceal the unacceptable parts of ourselves in the shadow. Presenting situations and personal dilemmas in our lives will cause us to re-visit time and again the Faustian bargain in the face of authenticity against that of acceptance, and social inclusion. From minor social situations to choices of conscience and social evolution we will renegotiate the terms and implications of the Faustian bargain in relation to our sense of self and who we really are.

The Faustian bargain is an innate response from the child to sacrifice part of his/her own authentic self in order to be met with approval, love and acceptance by the parental figure. As wounded children themselves the parental figures have repressed parts of themselves into their own shadow which the young child with all their openness and spontaneity can stir and arouse. Unable to defend him/herself from the re-emergence of these uncomfortable shadowy feelings the parental figure will protect him/herself by projecting onto their offspring. This manifests as the judgement and condemnation of their children’s behaviours which in turn manifests as the child’s shadow aspect. Thus the child learns to split him/herself and cast that which is “unacceptable” in the parent’s eyes into his/her own shadow.

As children we attain a sense of who we are by the responses we receive from others. If we are treated in a loving, kind and accepted way we internalise these messages and come to see ourselves and relate to ourselves in the same manner. Later on when we form relationships we come to relate to others in the same way that we were related to. Developing a strong foundation in childhood through the affirmation and support of the significant adults in our lives pushes us forward and outwards into the world allowing us to take the necessary risks that will ensure continued growth and development.

In the absence or lack of embrace as children, adults may struggle to be authentic in relation to the world around them. As a core intrinsic need, the need for embrace and to belong may be far stronger in the face of familial, societal and cultural acceptance than the need to risk and be authentic. The risk to be authentic in whatever subculture or context the person exists may result in experiences of disapproval, rejection, and isolation. Those who do not conform to familial, societal and cultural norms get shunned and shut out, a painful and punitive response to their need to hold authentic voice.

For many it is safer to belong and be accepted as part of the core group than to risk their own authentic voice. We have learned from very early what it means to be accepted and to be shunned, and to risk doing so again may result in a backlash that we have previously witnessed as exclusively for the “other”. However this choice does not come about without a sacrifice. In the meeting and prioritising of this core intrinsic need to be accepted over holding authentic voice the spiritual wholeness of the person can become compromised.

A lack of authentic relationship with oneself can create a spiritual loss experienced as a sense of emptiness within the self. During the individuation process of development we “come into relationship” with those parts of ourselves that have been disowned or split off into shadow. We come to know the uniqueness of our own being that is separate from the collective psychology of family, culture and society.

Our psyches are influenced and developed in the context of family, religion, politics, society and culture. As adults moving through the individuation process we begin to hand back those voices that are not inherently true or indeed or own. We become witnesses to our personal psychology and begin to relate to those parts of us that were previously cast off into the shadow. At the same time we begin to cast off the parts of the collective psychology that formed part of the beliefs, values and myths that were accepted by the collective as “truth”. A personal truth thus emerges that is far stronger and more valid than the collective myth that perpetuated the presenting culture.

To be whole therefore is to reconcile those fragmented parts of the personality that have not been taken into account. A whole person is someone who has integrated their woundedness into their psyches and comes into relationship with those repressed parts of themselves. For all people this involves diving deep into the personal shadow and working through past hurts, traumas or parts of the self that have been shunned or split off. The road to wholeness is a return journey marked with integrating and segregating all at once. It is an arduous journey where we revisit the Faustian bargains we have made throughout our lives, where we move through our own self-denials and self-betrayal to integrate those valid parts that we have lost connection with and segregate out those untruths which we previously accepted.

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