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Tap into your health with functional nutrition

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In a world where we’re stressed, sleep deprived, and bombarded with messages that compromise our sense of self-worth, it can be difficult to even imagine, let alone attain, a state of optimal health.

How many of us harbour limiting self-beliefs and sky-high cortisol levels, turning to emotional eating to help us cope, and then fad diets to remedy the subsequent weight gain? It can seem like a never-ending cycle and one that Melissa Kovacevic is on a mission to help Canberra women break free from.

Now a Functional Nutrition Consultant, Clinical EFT Practitioner, and the founder of Functional Health Canberra, Melissa says her interest in nutrition was sparked from her own struggles with weight loss and diets.

“I was confused and wanted to end my own personal struggles with health and weight”, she explains.

“The more I studied, the more my perspective shifted. I no longer looked at food as the enemy, but rather a way to care and nourish my body.”

Melissa became a source of knowledge and advice for her friends and family and helping others grew into a passion. After the birth of her daughter Isabella, Melissa took the plunge into nutrition as a career.

Alongside her nutrition studies and her own health journey, Melissa discovered the Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT) and made the decision to combine functional nutrition and EFT as the foundation for her business.

“I found that an isolated approach to nutrition was generally not sufficient for many people. There is a resistance many people face when it comes to nutrition and making healthy choices. This is due to a number of different factors, including stress, limiting self-beliefs and negative behavioural patterns or habits; for which EFT is extremely effective.”

It’s the combination of EFT and functional nutrition, says Melissa, that is her winning formula to help people achieve and maintain their health goals.

So what, exactly, does EFT entail?

Made famous by Gabby Bernstein and Oprah, it’s often referred to as ‘tapping’, or emotional acupuncture, without the needles. Melissa says it’s a stress management tool that’s based on a combination of principles from ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.

“EFT is a simple exercise performed by tapping your fingertips on specific meridian endpoints on your face and body while focussing on a negative emotion or physical sensation. This helps restore balance to the body’s energy system, which helps to relieve symptoms a negative experience or emotion may have caused.”

Melissa says that there’s a great deal of evidence to support EFT as an evidence-based practice, listing benefits that include a calming effect of the amygdala (the stress centre of the brain) and a reduction in cortisol.

“It’s important to note that EFT as we know it now, has only been around since 1995, which is also why you may not have heard about it before. Even though the science and proven effectiveness are undeniable, it is still considered a new modality in the experimental stages.”

Even so, Melissa says that EFT has helped her clients with issues including workplace stress and anxiety, resistance to exercise, food cravings, and to break free from emotional eating patterns. The latter issue, in particular, is one that Melissa sees repeatedly in her practice and has experienced firsthand.

“Firstly, I think it’s important for us all to understand that it is not a lack of willpower that is causing emotional eating behaviours. I wish I understood this years ago! I hear women beating themselves up and feeling guilty when they give in to food cravings and eat for emotional reasons, blaming themselves and their lack of self-control.”

The reasons that we engage in emotional eating, says Melissa, extend far beyond a lack of self-control, with a number of biological patterns at play.

“A craving involves several areas of the brain, including the reward centre, memories and many hormones and chemicals. Willpower just can’t compete with these powerful systems. Furthermore, carbohydrates actually help to create a concentration of an amino acid called Tryptophan — this is the building block to serotonin, the happy hormone.”

Now that we know why we turn to chocolate in times of stress or anxiety, how can we resist temptation and stick to our health goals? Melissa says EFT can help.

“Another strategy I’ve found to help is the practice of mindful eating. It’s about focussing your attention on the act of eating, without any judgement. It brings you into the present moment, helping you to regain control over both food and your feelings.”

Melissa believes that the body has an innate ability to function at its prime. It’s when external factors interfere with this ability that we get into strife.

“Functional nutrition is a science-based approach to healthcare that looks beyond just food and takes into account the broader environmental challenges that impact our health” she explains.

“It teaches people to consider not just the nutrients but also other aspects of health, such as lifestyle, environmental factors, sleep and exercise habits, as well as our emotional state.”

Factors like stress, sleep, and mindfulness are gaining traction in the wellness world for playing a huge role in our overall health. Functional Health Canberra takes a holistic approach to your wellbeing, with the goal of helping you to overcome your own personal barriers and reach your health goals – once and for all helping to break the cycle of limited beliefs and self-sabotage.

Special HerCanberra reader offer

For the next two weeks, Functional Health Canberra is offering HerCanberra readers 10% off all services using code HERCAN19. Bookings available online.

the essentials

What: Functional Health Canberra
Where: Unit 14/160 Lysaght Street, Mitchell. Sessions available face to face, or online.
Web: functionalhealthcanberra.com.au

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