Karen Sutton 00:03
Hello, and welcome back to the widow podcast. Thank you so much for joining me again. This week, I am really excited to have the lovely Sabine Horner, come and join me and share her knowledge, her wisdom, her skills. Sabine has so much, so much to offer. We had a wonderful chat on Instagram early on in the year and I was blown away, absolutely blown away and had so much positive feedback. I've asked her to come and join me again on the podcast, so that we can help reach more people to understand a little bit more about grief and nutrition and what we put into our bodies and how we look after ourselves. Sabine is a registered nutritionist. She is an ayurvedic, have I said that right Sabine? An ayurvedic health coach, and also works with yoga therapy.
Karen Sutton 01:03
So Sabine, Hello, thank you so much for coming and joining us today.
Sabine Horner 01:08
Hello, everybody. And thank you very much, Karen, for inviting me to have this conversation with you.
Karen Sutton 01:14
It's my absolute pleasure. Thank you. So Sabine, obviously, you are also a widow, sadly. Do you want to tell us just a little bit about you and and your story?
Sabine Horner 01:30
Yes, I hope I can be brief. So, my nutrition story actually started before my husband became ill because I got interested in ayurveda because I used to have IBS problems, irritable bowel syndrome, and weight issues, I was always struggling with weight. And then when my husband was diagnosed with leukemia, I knew instantly we had to, you know, change to an Ayurvedic nutrition, I don't want to call it diet, because the word diet is just misused all the time. So ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine in India, and it's more than a diet, it's a lifestyle around the prevention of disease and also addressing imbalances in the body. And so I thought that, because ayurveda gave me the, the immediate explanation of why he got leukemia. I thought, that's where we need to start. And despite pressure from his family, you know, not to do it and not to change our diet and lifestyle. We did it and it helped him so much. And then when he died after stem cell transplant, I just had started studying nutrition at the northern College of acupuncture in the meantime. So I put ayurveda to the side for some time, and decided to do that first. And I studied nutrition science and practice from a functional medicine point of view, which is the western equivalent to ayurveda, I would say, because it's also a very holistic way of looking at the body, and what's going on, and the causes of disease and imbalances.
Sabine Horner 03:24
And in the meantime, I'd also started to do Kundalini training as a Kundalini yoga teacher, which wasn't supposed to turn me into a yoga teacher, it was supposed to give me some Risk Bites, it was meant to be my retreat. While Kevin was undergoing his treatments, because I was under so much stress, it was unbelievable.
Sabine Horner 03:51
Having to go from York to Leeds every time with his food, because by the time he had his stem cell transplant, he didn't want to have any hospital food anymore. So we struck an arrangement with the hospital and I was allowed to bring in homemade food for him. But it was very stressful.
Karen Sutton 04:11
Yeah, well, all of it, you know the whole picture is incredibly stressful, isn't it?
Sabine Horner 04:19
Yeah. Apart from the nutrition side of things, yeah. So and when he died, I struggled, you know, to keep what we had started. to keep it alive and to keep it going, but I thought I can't revert to the way I was eating before because that would be something like a betrayal to our efforts. I had to actually have a kick in the bum for my ayurvedic doctor, the one that we were seeing for Kevin's treatments as well. As you know, we had alternative treatments as well as West treatment.
Sabine Horner 05:04
This doctor he said you need to have three happy meals a day. And with happy he meant like, lots of vegetables, lots of food that has fiber in it, because that lifts our mood, it helps with so many things.
Sabine Horner 05:20
So, and I still struggled, of course, because yeah, somebody can tell you, you need to have three Happy Meals a Day, but you still have to get up, get the ingredients in and get cooking again. So I managed to, I usually left out the evening one and just had some homemade hot chocolate, a very nutritious one, but still, and then I got kicked in my bum again, when my ayurvedic practitioner was seeing a doctor and practitioner from the Ayurvedic medicine side of things, and she then gave me a handout, you know, like, okay, you need to have three different vegetables in your meals, because I was eating mainly something like meat or fish with one or two vegetables or three, if you count garlic as well. And, and that wasn't enough. So I thought, How can I get, you know, three different vegetables in and two more because she said you have to have five different ones every day. And then I remembered the green stir fry recipe that we cooked together, my husband and I, and that's how my famous stir fry recipe was born.
Karen Sutton 06:38
Aw, that sounds amazing.
Sabine Horner 06:42
It became my go to and it's so quick and easy.
Karen Sutton 06:54
And that's what you need, isn't it? That is what you need, because when you have just lost a loved one, you haven't got the energy or the inclination even I don't think to want to cook, especially when you've been cooking together, you've been cooking for someone with someone, all of a sudden, when it's just you. And you are in the depths of despair that the last thing we want to do is go and cook a nutritious healthy meal. And it just is too much, isn't it? It's too much to bear.
Sabine Horner 07:27
Yeah, and you you definitely need support with that in the first few weeks and months. Somebody has to help you, that would be perfect.
Karen Sutton 07:38
Yeah. So I kind of always joked a little bit with people. Because when Simon died, I know when many people have lost loved ones, you kind of end up with sort of 15 different lasagnes in the freezer that people have cooked for you, which is lovely, and it does really help for sure. But, you know, I know we've talked before about food and what we need and you've kind of touched on there about having more vegetables.
Karen Sutton 08:13
When we are in those early days of grief and, really not feeling it. What would you say are the best things we can do, maybe we could get other people to cook for us or that we could prepare for ourselves that's fairly easy and simple, yet nutritious and going to help us in that in that grief, that raw grief that we experience?
Sabine Horner 08:41
So, let's first talk about what other people can do for you because lasagne is really a lovely gesture. But the pasta is not really what we need. And the tomatoes can be irritating to our system which is already upset anyway by the grief. So we need to be really gentle on our digestive system because what we experience in grief is a huge emotional stress response and that just has a huge impact on our digestive strength. So we need to go easy we need easy to digest things not sandwiches, because that's the most difficult to digest food. I was so surprised when I learned about that from ayurveda.
Karen Sutton 09:27
Is that because of the bread?
Sabine Horner 09:30
Yeah, it's about the gluten it's also what we put on it like the ham and the cheese. It's like two different, very difficult to digest proteins on top of the gluten which turns into a gooey mass in the stomach and it just clogs everything up and not many people can actually digest gluten very well and especially not when you are going through the throws of grief. So it has to be easy.
Sabine Horner 09:59
It also depends on the bread, like white bread, of course hasn't got any fiber in it. So it will just drag you down, mood wise, energy wise, in every respect. So, if you're already feeling low, you need something to cheer you up, and colors and spices would do that. So if you cook for somebody who's justmbecome bereaved. A vegetable soup with some red lentils in it would be perfect. Because the red lentils, whatever vegetables you put in, it will harmonize, balance all the flavors, that's what I learned. It's just fabulous. And then you blend it a little bit. So everything that's already blended mashed pureed, is so much easier to digest. It's like baby food, we need baby food again.
Sabine Horner 10:54
Because we also turn into children, I don't know whether you remember but I felt like a child again, completely lost.
Karen Sutton 11:05
Yeah, I can absolutely remember it so well, you have to be spoon fed almost don't you, you have to sort of be got up and kind of you have to have your handheld throughout the day to make sure you're kind of doing everything that you need to do to look after yourself. You touched on a little bit there that the the grief response, that the stress response that the body goes through, could you just sort of expand on what happens in our bodies a little bit when we are going through grief?
Sabine Horner 11:36
Yeah, so we have this ancient response to any threat. And that's the stress response. And it's very important for our survival. And acute stress is really good, to get us out of danger. Then if the stress response subsides, then everything's fine. And you go back into having a relaxed state. But in grief, that's not what happens, right? It's, you know, we're grieving for months or years, I mean, not so acutely. But the first few weeks and months are definitely a very acute phase. So we're in chronic stress. And that's inflammatory, that causes inflammation in the body. But also, the stress response makes that the blood doesn't go to the digestive system, because that's not important. When you run away from the saber toothed tiger, that humans faced in ancient times, in prehistoric times, you don't need, to digest your food when you run away, you need the blood in your limbs and in your heart, and your livers working really hard to produce the glucose that you need the energy to run away. So the body is busy with other things, with supporting other body systems, but not the digestive system. That's really, really important to realize. And I think that's the missing link between the grief symptoms and the health issues. Some or many of us get further down the line, I would say that everybody suffers some health issues, to some degree. After going through bereavement.
Sabine Horner 13:31
I'm definitely still recovering. I'm doing my best. But it's just like it was such a massive onslaught on my system, the trauma and the stress that it just takes time. In this time, we just have to gradually learn to build a new routine and build ourselves back up again from the ground up again. Definitely. completely changed.
Karen Sutton 13:57
And that's really interesting, how long has it been for you now Sabine?
Sabine Horner 14:01
Four years and a few days/weeks
Karen Sutton 14:07
Bless you. And that's really interesting, isn't it? With all your knowledge, and all the work that you've done, you're still recovering from it. And that just highlights the impact that this has on us, doesn't it? You know, because I would bet my bottom dollar that you have probably looked after yourself nutritionally a lot better than most of us would, because we don't have your skills, we don't have your knowledge. So we're not doing what you do. And if you can still feel that within your body, you know, what's going on for us in ours and what are we what are we missing? You know, because I think, I don't know if you'll agree with this. I think we get used to feeling a certain way, to putting up with certain things that are showing up in our body and I'm thinking it's normal, and kind of just going oh, its alright. You know, I'm a bit tired. or a bit stressed, or, this keeps showing up for me, but it's okay, essentially, it's just how life is for me.
Karen Sutton 15:08
And it's not until I think you start to really take notice or change things and realize the impact that can have on you. Because, you know, I am now a health coach, but I'm not by any stretch a nutritionist, and I don't have your knowledge and skills. But I went on a year's sort of health coaching program, because, Simon died of a heart attack very suddenly a 43. And after he died, food became my crutch, it did, and alcohol, and I really didn't look after myself very well. And after a couple of years, I thought, do you know what, Karen, this isn't really working for you, I just felt awful. So I kind of turned it around. Not perfect. You know, I haven't got it all sorted.
Karen Sutton 15:55
But the difference that I felt from exercising more, looking after myself better creating an awareness around what I was doing, what I was eating, how what I ate made me feel, which I've never really connected with before. And how much more alert, how much more energized, less foggy, less sluggish. Just eating well, and putting good food in how that impacted me and as as a result, how that impacted my life, and everything around it. But, you know, it took a lot of work. And it takes a lot of, of kind of unlearning and relearning doesn't it because we're not taught all this stuff. The convenience of processed foods are just out there in abundance, and they're so cheap. And we don't understand what happens to our food, let alone then what our food does to our bodies when we're putting it in there. And I know You talk a lot about the sort of the grief gut connection, don't you? which is so interesting. So can you can you talk a little bit about that as well Sabine?
GUT CONNECTION –
Sabine Horner 17:15
Yes, because the thing is, we need a lot of blood, a lot of fluids and a lot of energy to digest our food well. And that's what I learned not from studying functional medicine but from studying ayurveda. And so I've already talked about lack of blood because it goes to other body systems but we also forget to drink. And then we turn into what one of my bereavement counselors called energy vampires. So we have negative energy. Not even you know zero energy, we have negative energy so we are sucking energy from people around us. So people who support bereaved people have to be aware, you know that they are giving people energy, providing them with really essential energy to carry on.
Sabine Horner 18:11
And then when we haven't got the fluids because we are not drinking enough. The energy, we get all sorts of digestive issues, gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, you name it, irritable bowel syndrome. And that's what people put up with right not even when they go through bereavement but even before they may have had digestive issues already gas and bloating, are early warning signs that there's something wrong and you have to address it. We learned that in ayurveda that gas and bloating needs to be addressed ASAP. So it's not something to just ignore because it will just impact your health.
Karen Sutton 18:59
And how many people live with gas and bloating? I mean it's almost like that's normal.
Sabine Horner 19:05
Yes, yeah. And acid reflux. It just makes everything so much worse again as if it weren't bad enough already. So really, you have to start from the top with, you know, drinking enough so that you have enough saliva that you produce enough acid, stomach acid, digestive enzymes and they all need fluids. And you know where the fluids going to come from if you don't drink enough, but I'm not saying over drink because you can also over drink and then you flush out the electrolytes and that's another thing that people have never heard of. I had never heard of electrolyzed before I studied nutrition, so electrolytes are really important too. For example, to get nutrients intothe cell and waste products out of the cell, if you don't get waste products out, you can imagine that the toxins just accumulate in the cell and that will impact your energy levels and your mood and everything. And if you don't get the nutrients into the cell that will impact you, as well. So electrolyzer are like a calcium, magnesium. What's the word potassium, chloride, sodium salt. And so they're important we need them in the right balance.
Sabine Horner 20:31
So that's why I recommend my energy boosting coconut water smoothie because coconut water has a lot of electrolytes. Banana has electrolytes as well, but some people they can't really digest banana really well, they put on weight like me. So but in the smoothie they're alright, I must say that when I was just a banana like this, it just doesn't agree with me. So yeah, so digestive issues they need to be addressed. And so if you make sure that you drink enough, I would say like eight glasses of water and I always say warm water because again, if we drink anything cold that will cause blood constriction in the stomach and digestive system. And again, the blood will be diverted away from the digestive system. So we need to keep the blood there. So avoid anything cold and avoid anything gassy. You know, like, there's so many carbonated drinks, people drink carbonated water. If you already have gas and bloating that will make it worse you will have even more gas in your system. Things that you can change.
Karen Sutton 21:48
When you say warm water do you mean room temperature or or actually warm?
Sabine Horner 21:55
Well, it shouldn't feel as a shock to you, you shouldn't feel anything cold when you drink it in your stomach. I would say in the summer, yeah, room temperature will probably be okay. In the Winter, I would say, boiling water is actually also better. Because, again, it seems to be easier for boiling water to enter the cells. I don't know the mechanism, but it seems to help with water first.
Karen Sutton 22:26
Okay, interesting that's really interesting. And what about some people just don't like water, it's not palatable for them. So what would you suggest is a helpful way to get more in for people?
Sabine Horner 22:39
Well try all sorts of herbal teas. There's so many herbal teas around. And my favorite one is ginger tea, fresh ginger tea. And I know that that's an acquired taste for some people. But once you are used to it, you really, really get to love it. My husband didn't like it at first and then he'd just have it every day. And you can add some lemon juice to it, so vitamin C.
Karen Sutton 23:09
So it's okay to add those things that's not going to cause problems?
Sabine Horner 23:12
Yeah and even some pepper because that will, you know, like warm it up a little bit. Because what we need is you know, like warming up our digestive system because when we eat cold things, drink cold drinks, our body needs more energy to process the food to break it down because it needs to cook it then in the stomach. If you already cook it beforehand, the body needs less energy to process food.
Karen Sutton 23:40
Okay, and is it right as well that we shouldn't drink too much with our meals because that affects how we digest our food? So we've tried to drink in between meal times.
Sabine Horner 23:53
Yes, definitely half an hour before if you've forgotten to drink, but don't chug it down just you know like sipping throughout the day will be the best. But definitely have something if you haven't been drinking before your meal. And you can also add a slice of ginger or just bite into a slice of ginger with some salt and that will get your juices going. But you do need to replenish your fluids.
Karen Sutton 24:26
Interesting. Okay, so that helps the grief gut connection, so obviously everything that goes away, our gut needs easily digestible foods but we need plenty of fluid in that as well. So when you're talking about easily digestible food, you've already touched on pasta and bread, are possibly not the best things for us, tomatoes and not great, soup, smoothies are obviously good, that baby food as as we move through our grief and we're maybe wanting to have more proper meals. What helps that grief gut connection so that we absorb what we need?
Sabine Horner 25:17
Well, fiber is the basic thing that we need for everything, it just makes us full for longer. So it helps with cravings, because we do have sweet cravings when we are bereaved. And I can go into that, if we have time. And it also helps with elimination. And elimination is very important to get rid of toxins again. So when our energy, our mood, as you can imagine toxins impact on those.
Sabine Horner 25:51
And they also bind cholesterol for example. So if you have a high cholesterol, you know, fiber will bind it and eliminate it from the body. So, fiber has got so many benefits, and the most important one is it feeds our gut bacteria, the beneficial ones.
Sabine Horner 26:08
And I do have to touch upon them because they are so crucial for our gut health, if we look well after our gut, then that will take care of our health. If our gut is not healthy, we are not healthy. And the benefits of gut bacteria plays a key role in keeping us healthy. They keep the gut lining intact. And when the gut lining is leaky, then toxins and bacterial waste products can enter the bloodstream. And then we get systemic disease, we get all sorts of the immune system starts to respond to things that shouldn't be in the blood, we get food intolerances, food, allergies, autoimmune diseases, it's all because food particles that haven't been digested properly and waste products into the bloodstream and other toxins. So the immune system just gets overburdened.
Sabine Horner 27:08
And also the liver because the liver has to filter the blood that comes from the gut processing our foods, then that blood has to be filtered by the liver. The liver is our main detoxification organ, it just gets overwhelmed. And then that has an impact on the immune system. So every system for the body works together. But the gut is the crucial bit.
Karen Sutton 27:33
I've really learnt a lot about the gut, they say it's our second brain don't they. And a lot of our feelings, everything that goes on in our body, stems from our gut. How do we, I mean, I'm assuming grief has an impact on our guts bacteria because of the stress response that we're in? How do we try and combat that? You say fiber, what are good sources of fiber for people to consume? And how can we kind of try and maintain that healthy gut bacteria?
Sabine Horner 28:09
Okay, so there's two main distinctions of fiber, there's insoluble fiber that creates bark. And then there's soluble fiber that's like more gel like, and when we are grieving the gel like soluble fiber food is really nice and soothing, and calms inflammation because of the stress in our system. And so flax seeds are really, really good. And that's why I recommend putting flax seeds in the coconut water smoothie. And it also has other benefits, of course. Tthere is marshmallow root, which you can drink as tea, there is slippery elm which is also soothing to the system. So that's soluble fiber.
Sabine Horner 29:04
And then you've got insoluble fiber in vegetables, so insoluble fibers is fiber that the body doesn't digest. It helps with elimination. So that's in all sorts of vegetables and fruit. So I like apples, stewed apples would be really good. Also for breakfast, for example, would be easy to digest and really good for the beneficial gut bacteria because of the fiber content. So an apple a day keeps the doctor away is true. When I don't have my coconut water smoothie in the summer, I have stewed apples all the time. So I found that when I didn't have that as my breakfast my whole day was just going wrong. My mood was unbalanced my emotions, everything.
Karen Sutton 30:00
Yeah what we put into our body first thing I think has a huge impact doesn't it on how we feel and you know I speak to so many people that eat high sugar cereals, toast, you know just the things that they're just either high in sugar or have very little nutritional value in them you know I do try and encourage people if you're going to eat things like bread or pasta buy that the whole wheat version, but I know sometimes it's better isn't it with with quinoa, buckwheat noodles I think you mentioned before, is it basmati rice? So yeah, like you say trying things that probably have more nutritional value in them, but it kind of feels the same, if that makes sense that you're not kind of foregoing anything. In terms of breads, that's a tricky one. But I think you said sourdough is a little easier for our guts, is that right?
Sabine Horner 31:03
Yes, because the bacteria that is used to create the sourdough, they have already pre digested the flour for us. But again, it takes less energy to process the bread. And I always say spelt sourdough is best.
Karen Sutton 31:23
Okay, but you know, just try to avoid these things. So, as we've discussed, it's difficult for people and we tend to lean on the wrong foods, don't we? Easy foods. Alcohol as well creeps in, sugar creeps in, doesn't it? We sort of sometimes a lot of processed kind of foods. I mean, where where would you say to someone to start you know, so their diet just feels too big. To manage as a whole? What would your advice be on like, start here and try and kind of solve this area of what you're eating?
Sabine Horner 32:11
Well, the easiest way to to start getting more fiber into your meals is whatever recipe meals you can cook, which you don't find too, you know cumbersome is to add some more color, eat the rainbow. So really go for a variety of vegetables rather than your five favorite ones. Expand your repertoire of vegetables, go into the supermarket you know Morrison's has got plenty. That used to be our traditional supermarket. So you don't have to go to waitrose to get plenty of variety. And go for fennel, go for chicory, go for League, I don't know. Kale doesn't tend to be that popular or beetroot is really good for the liver. So just expand and go for color. I mean, just looking at the color in the pan will lift your mood. I'm pretty sure it will because it always does for me. When I look at the different colors in my pan, it makes me so happy.
Karen Sutton 33:46
I think it just feel so good. When you know what you're putting into your body is so nutritious, and it's so good for you. And that in itself feels great. And then when you've consumed the food that you know is highly nutritious and good for you. You just feel better you're there not going down that route of shouldn't have eaten that now I feel really rubbish. We're kind of just putting ourselves down all the time in our heads that self deprecating kind of talk, isn't it that our inner critic seems to like to throw at us consistently.
Karen Sutton 34:24
And it's kind of taking that action isn't it knowing that it's going to help you deal with the emotions and the feelings and the practical side of things that you've got to face as well in your grieving journey because it's huge, isn't it? You know, I always say that, grief is a full time job. You know, but you don't get a day off. You don't get to go home. You don't get any holiday pay. It's there. It's relentless, and you have to work really hard.
Karen Sutton 35:00
And one of the best ways that we can support ourselves through this is by giving our body what it needs, essentially, and not adding more stress, when they're already in a very high stress state, aren't they, you know, our sympathetic nervous system, or those stress hormones are just rife around our body. And it's kind of learning how we can sort of bring in our parasympathetic nervous system, isn't it and just calming things down for ourselves. And we're not very good at that we're on the go all the time. We feel like we've got to keep doing and doing and doing. We're forever putting ourselves down in our heads. We don't like to ask for support, we don't want to be a burden on people. So we're trying to do it by ourselves. And it is learning how we can support ourselves better, isn't it through through this? So, how can we help ourselves in grief to make better choices, you know, when it feels like it's just too much, you're tired? You know, what can we do to help ourselves make better choices?
Sabine Horner 36:19
Go for one simple thing, even if it's only drinking the six to eight glasses of water, warm water, herbal tea, or whatever, that will make a massive difference. When we say that water is one of the most powerful herbs, but it can't be patented, so nobody can make money out of it. So just use water. You know, water is giving life with a mix consists of 70 to 80% of water. So water is really essential. And reduce coffee. I know, I'm a coffee addict myself, but I had to reduce my coffee intake and I go for one really good cup of coffee in the morning, I go for organic because it hasn't got the pesticides in it and the toxins, yes, it costs more money. But if you only have one cup, you know, spoil yourself, you deserve to spoil yourself, you're not going out to the cafe so often nowadays, just put yourself at home and get some organic coffee. And, have it with some milk, some almond milk, or some oat milk to really, you know, like lessen the effect of coffee because coffee can actually cause additional stress on the kidneys especially. And the kidneys produce all the stress hormones, so they're already overwhelmed in grief.
Karen Sutton 37:57
Is that because of the caffiene in it Sabine?
Sabine Horner 37:59
Yes, it produces more spikes in the body, it's like beating a dead horse, if we keep drinking too much coffee. And then also caffeine, yeah, can have the same effect in black tea. But coffee is actually the main thing because people do tend to drink five or six cups of coffee a day. And I used to be one of those and it's not good for us.
Karen Sutton 38:28
Is it better to have caffeine free? Decaffinated Coffee?
Sabine Horner 38:33
Depends on how the decaffeinated coffee has been produced. Again, in the decaffeination process, they can use substances that are not so good for our body. So I would say go for organic coffee with some caffeine but try them with some milk. And you can even put some coconut oil in it to make it creamy. And that will lessen the effect even more and just enjoy it and sip it and really be mindful. Because I remember just leaving it and not really enjoying it and then having a sip of cold coffee.
Sabine Horner 39:14
So really sit with it and enjoy it and have your coffee ritual in the morning. Make it a ritual, but it's for you, it's your me time, your self-care time.
Karen Sutton 39:26
I have learned that one of the worst things we can do is end our day on alcohol and start the day on caffeine because the effect it has on on our systems is huge, is really huge. How many of us, at the end of the day, couple of glasses of wine, wake up in the morning couple of cups coffee, it's kind of what we do. And the stress that adds onto our system. So okay, so drinking more water. You also talked about breath work and how that can help and just how that is accessible and free to us all to help calm our nervous system down a little bit. So is that something people can easily do? Do you have to learn how to do it?
Sabine Horner 40:16
It's very, very easy to do, as you say it is free, it doesn't cost anything, because we do have to breathe anyway. So we just breathe a little bit deeper. Because of course, what we tend to do when we're grieving, we tend to breathe only from the chest up. We have very shallow breathing, and that causes also the neck and shoulder problems.
Sabine Horner 40:40
So deep breathing is breathing really deep into the abdomen and into your tummy. And you may have to put your hands on your tummy at first because we don't tend to push the tummy out on the inhale and then pull the abdominal muscles towards the back of the spine on the exhale, we tend to do the other way around. So it really, again, it's something to practice mindfulness with, to just connect with our breath and see what our breath is doing, regularly, at any time of the day, when you remember, oh, what's my breath doing? Oh, I think I'm breathing, a little shallow. So maybe I should put my hands on my tummy and just try to relax my tummy muscles. That takes some effort to relax because, of course, we are so tense that relaxing our tummy muscles might feel a little bit like an effort at first.
Sabine Horner 41:43
But once you've done the first inhale deep into your belly, and then the exhale, pulling the tummy muscles towards the back of the spine, the next inhale becomes so much more relaxed and deeper. That's my experience. And if you do this before and after a meal, if you do it before the meal, you can actually up your digestive enzymes by 25%, a significant benefit. Just deep breathing a little bit deeper just before a meal. And then after the meal, if you do the same, just relax and just connect with your breathing. And maybe also do some deep breathing. If you feel like it, then you give the tummy, the stomach time to process the food. So the blood stays in the stomach for 15 minutes, and then go back to the computer or to some other jobs you have to do.
Sabine Horner 42:40
Remember that when you digest your food, you need as much blood in your digestive system as possible. So don't watch television, if you can, I know it's very tempting when you're on your own, to sit in front of the television, but again, the blood goes through your eyes and your brain to process what's going on on the screen. And so it's just very simple things like that. You don't have to do everything, you know, become more aware of what you're doing, what simple things you can do to gradually help yourself and to digest your food better, and then to feel better, because when you do feel better then your energy level increases and your moods lifts.
Sabine Horner 43:30
For clarity as well, the brain fog and your depression, I was close to getting into depression, and I turned everything around, I could easily fall into that gap as well. So I really find it frustrating when people say I've got brain fog, I've got depression, I've been put on antidepressants, and I'm on anti anxiety pills, and it's just like, it's so avoidable.
Karen Sutton 44:00
Yeah. Do you know what I loved it, I think in our last conversation, the grief is a natural process, you know, but we fight it. We don't know how to grieve, you know, if society kind of dictates that you can have three weeks off work and then it's like right back to normal. And exactly to your point earlier, it takes a very, very long time, a very long time, years really doesn't it recover to, to restore, to recreate your new normal. And, you know, in that we don't give ourselves the time and the space that we need to nurture ourselves through this and then we think we're doing it wrong or that you know that that I did it. I did it. I went to the doctor and I was on sleeping tablets and antidepressants. You know when I reflect back, was I depressed? Probably not. You know. You feel depressed. But clinically, chemically? I don't know. But I think I was just in the depths of grief. And that felt like it could help when actually, there was probably a lot of other things that I could have done to support myself through that process that wouldn't have involved me taking tablets. And not to shame anyone, or to say that that's wrong. For some people, it is the right thing. But I think you know, you so brilliantly say we're not looking after ourselves, mentally, physically, nutritionally, all of it, are we?
Sabine Horner 45:36
And also, nobody tells us I mean, even support people, I mean, they do their best, but they only, look at the mind, what's going on in the brain and our emotions and feelings. They have not been trained to look at the guts. But the gut and the brain work together and one influences the other.
Karen Sutton 45:59
So interesting, so interesting. I'm conscious of time Sabine, but I just wanted to sort of sort of touch on sugar, because I think that's a biggie. And it's something that we all tend to a lot. What can we do, we still like those sweet things, but we're eating all the wrong sweet things. And you've kind of said a bit how grief makes us crave the sugar. So can we just talk a little bit about that?
Sabine Horner 46:28
Yeah, so we get sugar cravings for five reasons really. We get neurotransmitter imbalances. And one of the main, or very important neurotransmitters (not that the others are not important) is serotonin, which is the happy hormone, and 95% of it is actually produced by our gut bacteria. And stress impacts gut bacteria. So serotonin levels are impacted. And that can make us crave carbs, and sugar. Then, of course, we have lack of energy. And when the body lacks energy, especially the brain, it craves sugar, glucose is the main fuel for the brain. We also, of course, crave sweet things because we crave comfort.
Sabine Horner 47:24
The fourth one is when our beneficial gut bacteria are depleted. And of course, the more harmful ones get into the majority, and they crave sugar to survive. So one impacts the other. Again, it has to do with gut health, big time. What can you do, like, we don't really crave the sugar, we crave the sweet taste, and everything that's nourishing, has a sweet taste. So like sweet potatoes, everything has fiber in it, even meat, you know, like in small amounts, maybe blend it into a soup to make it more easily digestible at first. But don't go for a big steak very late in the evening, that's really the wrong time to eat a big steak. Because our digestive system is not working in the evening. So that's another thing that can be easily rectified by having the main meal at lunchtime.
Sabine Horner 48:34
So other things you can do is you can have instead of the white sugar, where there's nothing in it, there's no nutritional benefit in white sugar, but there's maple syrup, which has nutrients in it, there's raw honey which is amazingly beneficial. It also feeds the good gut bacteria, is anti microbial, it's anti inflammatory, it's good for the lungs, especially important now. So raw honey, I always stress raw honey, which means that it's not been heated up. It's not been mixed with sugar.
Karen Sutton 49:20
How do you know does it say raw? If you want to go and buy it? Does it say raw honey?
Sabine Horner 49:25
Well, I usually buy the organic one because I assume that organic they know that they should not heat it up. But you can also go to a local bee farmer and ask them, that's what we did. And they said well, they couldn't pay for the label, you know, organic but that's what they did. You know they just put it from the beehive into a jar and that's it. And so raw honey is is really good and dates.
Sabine Horner 50:00
Especially Medjool dates, medjool dates cost more money, but if you have these cravings and when you eat a lot of processed food, you actually eat more than you need. Because the body has still got these cravings because it still lacks the nutrients, the body's cravings are a sign that the body needs something and you need to listen to these cravings. If you have sugar cravings, and just think, am I emotionally mentally or physically malnourished? Yes, yeah, all three of these in grief. So, try to put more fiber into your diet by including more colorful vegetables. You know, these sort of things can help stop the cravings.
Sabine Horner 50:53
And alcohol, can be a lack of one of the neurotransmitters, GABA, so very difficult to find a Western doctor to diagnose GABA deficiency, but there are GABA supplements. So I would say, consult a nutritionist, if you have alcohol cravings, and you can't stop them, then there is definitely some nutrient deficiencies and neurotransmitter imbalances going on
Karen Sutton 51:29
That's so interesting. So what can we do with these products? With the honey, do we sort of drizzle it on breakfast.? Like if you were to have porridge or something like that? I mean, what can you do with these things to make them a sweet treat?
Sabine Horner 51:53
The porridge. For example, if people have porridge in the morning, then you could add some maple syrup on top. I always have raw honey with some lukewarm water and some apple cider vinegar in the morning because that's really good for the liver and gallbladder, to get all the digestive juices going in the morning and our digestive system revved up in the morning. Raw honey, you can also put them in energy balls if you've heard of energy balls. I also put them in my coconut water smoothie?
Karen Sutton 52:38
And I guess you could use the dates in the the energy ball as well can't you?
Sabine Horner 52:41
Yeah, the dates. You can also use them porridge, and in the coconut water smoothie. The dates are really good because they also have fiber.
Karen Sutton 52:52
I just love eating them. I love them, I have to be really careful. Because if I buy them, I eat too many, I just love medjool dates, they're fantastic.
Karen Sutton 53:04
Do you know I think I just wanted to touch on because we talked about it before. And I think it's important, sort of supplements and the vitamins maybe that we're going to be deficient in. Because I know there's a lot that we're deficient in. That's really important to us. So what would you recommend people do there?
Sabine Horner 53:28
Okay, the first thing I always do with my clients is get them tested for vitamin D. Because I think most people who have health issues, they have a vitamin D deficiency. So, it's really good to know your basic levels, even if you haven't got any symptoms, but symptoms can be fatigue, depression, anxiety, blood sugar problems, leading to weight gain, muscle aches and pains, that sort of thing. And vitamin D has also been linked to diabetes to high blood pressure to all sorts of chronic health issues. Fibromyalgia, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, you name it. So vitamin D is really important to have checked. So your GP can have it tested, and it's for free via the GP. If your GP doesn't want to do it, then you can go to the NHS website, there's a very good test. It costs 29 pounds, I think at the moment and you get the results by email. So it's very easy to do yourself.
Karen Sutton 54:57
And then magnesium because Vitamin D works together with magnesium, and we are all magnesium deficient, all of us, whether we are bereaved or not, because this pandemic is just stressful for everybody. And stress depletes magnesium quite heavily. So everybody should supplement with magnesium. I did. Again, sometimes I stop doing it, and then I start doing it again. And then I just feel the difference it makes to my sleep. So if you have any sleeping problems, then just try to increase magnesium intake, at least 400 milligrams a day, but you have to be careful when you're on medication like blood pressure medication, because magnesium lowers blood pressure naturally. So be careful when you're on medication, and I know quite a lot of bereaved people are so you have to check that with your GP unfortunately.
Sabine Horner 56:06
Multivitamin would be not amiss, because when we lack energy, our thyroid, which regulates our metabolism slows down to preserve our energy reserves. And that can slow down our digestion and cause constipation and depression, can also cause weight gain, and our thyroid needs a lot of nutrients. Vitamin D again, magnesium again, but also iron, selenium, vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin A, you can already see it needs so many bits of minerals. So if you have any suspicion that you may have a low thyroid function, then the multivitamin would be good. But again, if your on medication it needs to be checked by a nutritionist, that it hasn't got any interaction with your medication.
Sabine Horner 57:12
And I would say nutritionists, because they know a little bit more about supplements than some GPs. And also about the food, that would help you get your nutriant levels up and improve your digestive strength. So there's a lot to consider, you know, a lot of things that nutritionists do
Karen Sutton 57:44
It's huge, it's absolutely huge isn't it, and we could talk for hours about this. I find it all so interesting, I really do and I really want to help people connect more with what they're putting in, as to what they're getting out. Because it's all so connected. And you know, the long term effects of, not nourishing our bodies in an already very stressful situation. We haven't had time to talk about it, but you know, the grief symptoms and how they can go on to become health problems. But it does start with having that awareness, doesn't it of what you're putting in? And why you're putting it in, you know, are you hungry? Do you need that thing? Or do you need to maybe get out in nature and take a walk, connect with someone they love, dance in the kitchen to a song, find some joy in your life, which I know is very difficult. And when I say joy, I don't mean you have to go out partying, but we can fight, exactly to your point, sitting in your garden with a really nice cup of coffee and being present with it and allowing yourself that time in that space. We can find joy in those moments, because we're nurturing ourselves. And I think sometimes we're looking externally for joy. And sometimes it's about looking inward isn't it?
Sabine Horner 59:18
I'd also like to add, I've learned from reflecting on my own behavior and habits that it all starts with self love. We need to learn to love ourselves. Again, if we haven't done it before, then you know, for the first time I think that's one of the big lessons from bereavement is when there's no partner left to love us, we have to learn to love ourselves and then it becomes easy to make some better choices.
Karen Sutton 59:54
Yeah. 100%. And I think we do become very critical of ourselves don't we? And we don't love ourselves and I know it sounds a bit corny and a bit cheesy people but we are our own biggest assets in life aren't we, we have to be our own best friend. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important relationship you're going to have with anyone in your entire life you have got to live with you for the whole of your life, so make that relationship a positive one, a loving one, a compassionate one, nourish it, nurture it, learn to kind of love you it does help you make better choices, doesn't it and it helps you kind of create something meaningful.
Karen Sutton 1:00:49
Which again takes time and we all need a bit of help in that sometimes. So Sabine, if people want some more information, they want to find you, track you down, work with you, follow you, how can people get in touch with you, and sought you out? You know?
Sabine Horner 1:01:09
Well, unfortunately my website is still not ready, because I'm so busy with other projects. But hopefully October, if I can get my act together, so that would be www.sabinehorner.com it's difficult to spell.
Sabine Horner 1:01:40
You can also find me on Instagram, you can find me on Facebook, on YouTube, I share some cooking videos, so you can always cook along with me if you find it too boring, too lonely, whatever, difficult to cook on your own, just switch on one of my cooking videos and cook with me. And they were made with bereaved partners for berieved partners, so make use of them. Where else am, I have a well being community for bereaved partners where I share all sorts of tips, recipes, wisdom, videos about how to help ourselves with simple things.
Sabine Horner 1:02:27
Where's that? Where can people find that? Where's that group?
Sabine Horner 1:02:30
On Facebook. So if you type in well-being community for bereaved partners, you should be able to find that group. And on LinkedIn, you can find the whole link tree with all sorts of other things. Previous sources, and I also do free interactive session on health issues after loss. And the next one is coming up on the 24th of September, from 10 to 11am in the morning. So you can find that one on Eventbrite - if you look for health issues after loss. And you can also find a link via my Instagram profile in the link in the bio.
Karen Sutton 1:03:19
Brillaint, that's a lot of help and support out there for people so that they can learn more from you. Sabine, you have just been incredible, again, your knowledge is just out of this world. I think you're incredible. And everyone needs to come and see you and speak to you and help support themselves through their grieving journey. You understand it from firsthand experience. But it's just lovely what you do, and it will help so many. So thank you so much. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for everything, for being here. We hugely appreciate it. So thank you very much Sabine.
Sabine Horner 1:04:07
Thank you, Karen. And I hope I will be able to help many more people in the years to come.
Karen Sutton 1:04:14
You will you will. I'm sure Thank you.