Live talk available at the below date and time. The Electrical Industries Charity presents a wellbeing series of inspirational speakers and leading experts in mental health, law, and reliance. The series is uplifting and educational on a range of issues impacting our industry. Format of the series will be a 50-minute virtual presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers facilitated by the Charity CEO, Tessa Ogle.
Learn about the science of sleep in this webinar brought to you by our partner Sleepstation and presented by their Director of Sleep Science, Dr Neil Stanley. When you’re struggling to sleep, it can be difficult to find good quality, reliable information. Get the facts about the science of sleep directly from an expert, Dr Neil Stanley. Drawing on his 39 years working in sleep research, Dr Stanley will present a straightforward, no-nonsense session to help you understand why sleep is so important for your health and wellbeing, what can go wrong and how these factors disrupt your sleep.
Dr Stanley will describe how Sleepstation’s sleep improvement programme works, and how you can access the programme for free through the EIC when you need to. The webinar closes with a live question and answer session giving you the opportunity to tap into Dr Stanley’s years of knowledge with your own questions.
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This month we’re exploring nutrition and our health. We will be discussing safe eating habits, the impact of food on our mental and physical health and how to make sure we’re helping our bodies and minds be the best they can be. Within our industry the amount of alcohol consumed went from 8 units to 11 units a week and self-harming behaviours increased by 78% . Some of the content of this month may be triggering to some readers.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. It is really important we eat the right nutrients so we can keep our bodies and minds healthy.
Nutrition helps us to maintain a healthy immune system.
Our immune system is our defence against diseases, and so poor nutrition can mean we are more prone to these. A well-balanced diet that consists of fruit, vegetables and low fats will help to keep your immune system strong and healthy and defend against diseases for years to come.
Proper nutrition provides you with more energy
Did you know that our bodies rely on energy that is outsourced from the foods and drinks we consume? The main nutrients our bodies use for energy are carbohydrates, fats and protein. You can find carbohydrates in foods such as wholegrain breads and starchy vegetables like potatoes. These foods digest at a slow rate and therefore offer prolonged energy. Water is also necessary in order to transport nutrients throughout our bodies, with dehydration from lack of water causing an absence of energy.
Many people opt for diets that are low in carbohydrates, however, this can be detrimental to your mood. These diets can increase feelings of tension whereas diets high in carbohydrates tend to have an uplifting effect on moods. By having a diet that is rich in protein, reasonable carbohydrates and low in fat, you will be obtaining an adequate supply of iron, omega-3 fatty acids and iron, and our moods will be positively affected by this.
Eating a nutritional diet can also help with your physical and mental health, as eating healthily allows you to have more energy, and therefore become more active. Studies have shown that two thirds of people who eat fruit and vegetables every single day report no mental health issues.
Living a longer life
Whilst our bodies need food in order to be healthy and survive, the process our body takes to metabolise causes stress on the body. By overeating, we are creating more stress and this could potentially lead to a short lifespan if changes are not made. If we feed our bodies the wrong types of food our lifespan can hugely decline because of this. By eating diets that are rich in nutrients, and contain little to no processed foods, our lives may be lengthened.
We all understand that we need to maintain a healthy diet and keep active at least three times a week to support our bodies and keep them in the best possible shape. Although we understand what we need to do, putting this into practice can be tricky. The temptation of fast food, our favourite tipple, and an evening in front of the TV can be a little too much sometimes and when you’re constantly travelling it can be difficult to eat healthy, drink well and exercise. Logan, an electrical sales engineer, contacted the Electrical Industries Charity as his job and lifestyle was beginning to affect his wellbeing.
Logan had always been in sales, but his new role meant he had to travel a lot to clients. On particularly busy weeks Logan would rack up close to 400 miles in the car. This meant Logan spent a lot of time on the road, stuck in traffic and living off service station facilities. Logan would often be eating his breakfast, lunch and dinner from service stations and roadside food stops. While at client meetings Logan would consume sugary snacks washed down with white coffees and builder’s tea. After 10 months in his new role Logan’s weight had ballooned and he felt sluggish, bloated, achey and sometimes breathless navigating building floors. Logan contacted the Electrical Industries Charity for some practical advice on how to best manage his role and a healthy lifestyle.
The Charity caseworker team spoke to Logan about the biggest pressures in his life and understood he would often rush out of the house meaning he would have to get breakfast on the way or skip breakfast and have a big lunch. Logan has two young children and to accommodate them and his wife better he would often eat dinner late while driving home so his wife could get the kids fed and in bed. Not only was Logan’s role affecting his physical wellbeing it was also impacting his relationships. Logan rarely saw his children throughout the week and if he was especially busy or traffic was bad him and his wife would not see each other until the next evening.
The Charity encouraged Logan to organise his work diary so he could have days on the road and days off. Logan was encouraged to group together client appointments which were geographically close and if one day was particularly road heavy, he should try to make the next two days more local. Logan’s caseworker advised Logan to food prep on the weekends. When Logan was running out the door, he could grab a box with fruit, cut vegetables, a sandwich, and a bottle of water in. To help Logan keep active while travelling the Charity suggested always using stairs within office buildings, parking a little further away from appointments and asking clients if they would rather have a walking meeting. Although Logan couldn’t cut down his road travel and service station use completely the Charity and him devised some simple routes to improve his physical wellbeing.
By having three days a week closer to home Logan was able to spend more time with his family and could join them for evening meals. Logan’s physical and mental wellbeing is now far improved, and he has lost almost a stone since starting the new strategies suggested by the Electrical Industries Charity.
It is fairly easy to get confused over what your body wants and what your body needs. For instance, your body needs carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins ― it can survive just fine without that extra scoop of chocolate chip ice cream with sprinkles. A well-balanced diet is one that incorporates all the essential nutrients in the right amounts. So how do I ensure that my body gets all the nutrients it needs every day? By following six simple guidelines.
Rule #1: Eat Everything
Before you raid your fridge and eat a month’s worth of food, let me elaborate. The body needs proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats. It is impossible to acquire all these nutrients from a staple diet of cold pizza and soda pop. Giving your body sufficient nutrition entails nibbling on that doctor-repelling apple, chomping down on some baby carrots before your lunch break and taking that side of broccoli to go with your meatloaf. Ensure that your meal contains at least one source of protein, a source of carbohydrates, a vegetable or a fruit (or both). Of course, you do not have to consume all of it at once. You can start with a light vegetable salad a few hours before your meal or carry the fruit as a snack for later. Your body will thank you for these little concessions.
Rule #2: There Is Always A Better Substitute
One of the reasons many people generally shy away from “eating healthy” is because most of the diet recommendations from the diet gurus are ― in all honesty ― pretty revolting. A kale smoothie with spinach, carrots and a bunch of other blended leaves is as depressing to eat as it is to drink. There are tons of tasty and equally healthy substitutes you can opt for instead. If wheat grass doesn’t do it for you, go for a healthy and very tasty berry and a citrus smoothie. Try a serving of cauliflower if broccoli does not work for you. Always eat what you prefer. Ultimately, you will be supplying your body with the required nutrients while still giving your taste buds something to be excited about.
Rule #3: Don’t Be A Stickler For Calorie-Counting
Portion sizes are important to some degree. Your body only assimilates a small portion of what you eat for nutrients, so there is really no need to gorge down an entire Thanksgiving turkey just because you were dared to.
Walking around with a food scale is one way to go about it (it is also a great way to lose friends). However, ensuring that you have the right amount of food on your plate is as easy as giving it a quick visual sweep. Half your plate should contain vegetables, a quarter of it should have a serving of carbohydrate-rich foods while the other quarter should be protein. Portion sizes are important to some degree. Your body only assimilates a small portion of what you eat for nutrients, so there is really no need to gorge down an entire Thanksgiving turkey just because you were dared to. Walking around with a food scale is one way to go about it (it is also a great way to lose friends). However, ensuring that you have the right amount of food on your plate is as easy as giving it a quick visual sweep. Half your plate should contain vegetables, a quarter of it should have a serving of carbohydrate-rich foods while the other quarter should be protein.
Rule #4: Supplement Your Diet
You can’t always eat every single vitamin and mineral that your body requires. Most of them are only required in small amounts anyway, so going without vitamin K for a day will not necessarily kill you. However, extra dietary supplements are a pretty big deal when it comes to giving your body what it needs in the right amounts. The occasional vitamin supplement or omega-3 pill is a great way to keep your body nourished. If your current state of health does not require a steady intake of a certain vitamin, your use of extra dietary supplements needn’t be very strict.
Rule #5: Fiber
Few things are more mortifying than having a case of “clogged pipes” right in the middle of the day. A sound piece of advice is that you should never forego your regular intake of fiber. It is an experience that everyone will be better off not going through. How do you keep your fiber levels up there? Substitute your morning bagel with a whole-grain muffin, grab a pear as you head out for work or go for the granola bar instead of a Snickers bar. There are numerous tasty snacks that can help your day (and your bowel movements) go smoothly and without a hitch.
Rule #6: Stay Hydrated
Literally every fiber of your body requires water to function optimally. It is by far an essential nutrient you can give your body. Without water, not even digestion can take place. Carrying a bottle of water everywhere is not completely necessary unless you ride your bike to work or are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Nevertheless, keep your intake of water fairly regular. The 7-glasses-a-day-rule is simple enough to enforce. A rule of thumb when it comes to staying hydrated is that you should drink water every time you are thirsty. Our bodies are fairly easy to appease when it comes to giving them the right nutrition. Considering the fact that we do not have the technology to create replacement bodies for when ours get worn out, it is prudent that we take the necessary steps to ensure that they have adequate nutrition always.
Not having the right nutrition can affect your body in lots of different ways:
According to a National Center of Health Statistics 2003 survey, about 63 percent of British adults have overweight or obesity as a result of poor nutrition. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. Having overweight puts people at risk for developing a host of disorders and conditions, some of them life-threatening.
The National Institutes of Health reports that hypertension is one of the possible outcomes of poor nutrition. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is called the silent killer, because it frequently remains undetected and thus untreated until damage to the body has been done. Eating too much junk food, fried food, salt, sugar, dairy products, caffeine and refined food can cause hypertension.
High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Poor nutrition can lead to high cholesterol, which is a primary contributor to heart disease. High fat diets are common in the UK. The National Institutes of Health reports that more than 160,000 people in the UK die each year due to heart disease, which can be caused by a high fat diet. High cholesterol foods contain a large amount of saturated fat. Examples include ice cream, eggs, cheese, butter and beef. Instead of high fat foods, choose lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish and seafood and avoid processed foods.
Diabetes also can be linked to poor nutrition. Some forms of the disease can result from consuming a sugar- and fat-laden diet, leading to weight gain. According to the National Institute of Health, about 3.9 million people in the UK have diabetes.
A stroke that is caused by plaque that builds up in a blood vessel, then breaks free as a clot that travels to your brain and creates a blockage can be linked to poor nutrition. Strokes damage the brain and impair functioning, sometimes leading to death. Foods high in salt, fat and cholesterol increase your risk for stroke.
According to the National Institutes of Health, poor nutrition can lead to gout. With gout, uric acid buildup results in the formation of crystals in your joints. The painful swelling associated with gout can lead to permanent joint damage. A diet that is high in fat or cholesterol can cause gout. Some seafood--sardines, mussels, oysters and scallops--as well as red meat, poultry, pork, butter, whole milk, ice cream and cheese can increase the amount of uric acid in your body, causing gout.
According to the National Institutes of Health, several types of cancer, including bladder, colon and breast cancers, may be partially caused by poor dietary habits. Limit your intake of foods that contains refined sugars, nitrates and hydrogenated oils, including hot dogs, processed meats, bacon, doughnuts and french fries.
The relationship between our diet and our mental health is complex. However, research shows a link between what we eat and how we feel.
Our diet can affect our brain. Some foods can help us feel better. A Mediterranean-style diet (one with lots of vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, cereal and grains) supplemented with fish oil can reduce the symptoms of depression. Research has also shown that our gut can reflect how we're feeling: if we're stressed, it can speed up or slow down. Healthy food for our gut includes fruit, vegetables, beans and probiotics.
On the other hand, there are two groups of foods that have a negative effect on the brain:
Foods that trick the brain into releasing chemicals we may be lacking, temporarily altering our mood (for example, caffeine and chocolate)
Foods that prevent the conversion of other foods into nutrients the brain needs (for example, saturated fat such as butter, lard and palm oil).
Caffeine can also cause sleep problems, which can worsen your mood. Some people find it makes them irritable and anxious too.
What should I eat?
The Eatwell guide on the NHS website has detailed information on how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. It’s very similar to the Mediterranean diet.
Mind has more tips on eating well. It also has advice on managing your mood with food, including foods to avoid if you’re taking certain medications.
Sharing meals with other people
There are many psychological, social and biological benefits of eating meals with other people. They give us a sense of rhythm and regularity in our lives, a chance to reflect on the day, and feel connected to others. Biologically, eating in upright chairs helps with our digestion. Talking and listening also slows us down so we don’t eat too fast. Make the most of mealtimes by setting aside at least one day a week to eat with family and friends. Choose a meal that’s easy to prepare so it doesn’t become a chore. Share responsibility so everyone has a different task: doing the shopping, setting the table, cooking or washing up, for example. Keep the television off so you can all talk and share.
Malnutrition refers to getting too little or too much of certain nutrients. It can lead to serious health issues, including stunted growth, eye problems, diabetes and heart disease. Undernutrition typically results from not getting enough nutrients in your diet.
This can cause:
Poor nutrition has also been associated with:
We know a healthy diet and lifestyle are vital to maintaining our wellbeing, with a poor diet leading to a whole host of problems, including everything from high cholesterol to cancer. Whereas these can too often be problems of excess, malnutrition is also a serious problem, and can result in stunted growth, problems with eyesight and diabetes. Nutrition and health – both physical and mental – are all areas the EIC can help our industry colleagues with.
This was the case for Holly and her husband, who both worked in generation and renewables. Holly’s husband had experienced significant trauma as a child. But he had suppressed this trauma for so many years that he became unable to cope. Refusing to engage in professional help, he started to experience thoughts of suicide. The knock-on effect on his marriage and Holly’s own mental health was understandably huge, and she started to struggle as well. Due to the urgent needs of her husband, she thought of caring for herself very little and turned to other ways to manage her emotions. She did this through her eating.
Holly’s weight dropped at a concerningly fast rate and, in a very short time, Holly lost nearly 9 stone. But her fluctuating weight at times of distress was nothing out of the ordinary. It was her way of coping when she found things difficult to manage.
Holly was suffering from an eating disorder – a mental health condition whereby she was using the control of food to cope with feelings and challenging situations. It can include eating too much or too little or worrying obsessively about your weight or body shape. Anyone can get an eating disorder with teenagers affected the most. Left unchecked, it can lead to malnutrition from not getting enough nutrients in your diet and result not only weight loss, but a range of issues including fatigue and irritability, difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety. Thankfully, with the right treatment, most people can recover.
Through her job, Holly was made aware of the EIC and the support available to them both. Holly spoke with the charity and opened up about the struggles her husband was experiencing. The EIC explored possible support for her husband and the right professionals were sourced.
Holly felt a huge sense of relief that her husband was now going to be adequately supported. As a result, she was also ready to allow support for herself. With her eating disorder being her hugely detrimental coping strategy, the EIC sought help with a dietitian. Alongside this, Holly also engaged in sessions with a therapist. With the right support put in place for both Holly and her husband, they were able to turn a hugely positive corner in their relationship together, and in all aspects of their lives.
The help Holly and her husband were able to access was due to the support of the EIC and the powerLottery. It meant they both got the support and treatment they required. Without powerLottery, EIC would not be able to offer support to people like Holly and her husband. That’s why we need you to become a powerLottery player to help EIC to continue supporting our industry members.
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To sign up to play the powerLottery today, click here: https://www.electricalcharity.org/lottery
Malnutrition (undernutrition) is caused by a lack of nutrients, either as a result of a poor diet or problems absorbing nutrients from food. Certain things can increase your risk of becoming malnourished.
Some health conditions that can lead to malnutrition include:
You can also become malnourished if your body needs an increased amount of energy – for example, if you're healing after surgery or a serious injury such as a burn, or if you have involuntary movements such as a tremor.
Some types of medicine may also increase your risk of developing malnutrition. Some medicines have unpleasant side effects, such as making you feel sick, losing your appetite, or having diarrhoea, which could mean you eat less or do not absorb as many nutrients from food.
The following factors can also contribute to malnutrition:
An eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations. Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little or worrying about your weight or body shape. Anyone can get an eating disorder, but teenagers between 13 and 17 are mostly affected. With treatment, most people can recover from an eating disorder.
What causes eating disorders?
We do not know exactly what causes eating disorders.
You may be more likely to get an eating disorder if:
Types of eating disorders:
The most common eating disorders are:
Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)
A person may have an OSFED if their symptoms do not exactly fit the expected symptoms for any specific eating disorders.
OSFED is the most common eating disorder. You can find out more about OSFED on the Beat website
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.
Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID.
Possible reasons for ARFID include:
Symptoms of eating disorders include:
You may also notice physical signs, including:
Warning signs of an eating disorder in someone else
It can be very difficult to identify that a loved one or friend has developed an eating disorder.
Warning signs to look out for include:
If you think you may have an eating disorder, see a GP as soon as you can. A GP will ask about your eating habits and how you're feeling, plus check your overall health and weight. They may refer you to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists. It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.
You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.
Getting help for someone else
It can be difficult to know what to do if you're worried that someone has an eating disorder. They may not realise they have an eating disorder. They may also deny it, or be secretive and defensive about their eating or weight.
Let them know you're worried about them and encourage them to see a GP. You could offer to go along with them. If you're referred to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists, they'll be responsible for your care. They should talk to you about the support you might need, such as for other conditions you have, and include this in your treatment plan. Your treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder you have, but usually includes a talking therapy. You may also need regular health checks if your eating disorder is having an impact on your physical health.Your treatment may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder. Most people will be offered individual therapy, but those with binge eating disorder may be offered group therapy.
The Electrical Industries Charity Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is designed to help members of our sector no matter what stage they are at in their career. The four branches of the EAP means pensioners, employees and their immediate families and apprentices are supported by the Charity. The Electrical Industries Charity want to assist all our sector colleagues including those just starting their career. The Apprentice Support Programme helps all those starting their journey and aims to support apprentices in any circumstance. Recently, Danielle, an electrical apprentice, was put in touch with the charity by her family who reached out when they became concerned by her obsessive behaviours.
Danielle wanted to change her appearance. She had been over-weight as a teenager and had unfortunately experienced bullying within school. After turning 17 Danielle joined a local gym to lose some weight and tone up. The gym became Danielle’s escape, a sanctuary away from teasing and a positive outlet to work on herself and improve both her physical and mental well-being. She began to go to the gym 3-4 times a week, the recommended amount for an adult, but once she began to see results, she became obsessed, going to the gym twice-a-day.
Danielle would feel incredibly guilty or depressed if she skipped the gym and would try to find the time to exercise, no matter the expense. She continued to work out despite injury and when her injury worsened, she felt increasingly distressed about not being able to use the gym. With the rising use of gyms, influence of social media and the ongoing perpetuation of ‘the perfect body’ exercise addiction is becoming more commonplace in our workforce. Exercise addiction is associated with feelings of guilt when not exercising, ignoring pain and injury, and higher levels of body dissatisfaction.
Not only did Danielle become addicted to exercise she developed an unhealthy relationship with food and her body. Danielle used a calorie tracking app and became fixated on always eating below her recommended calorie intake. Danielle distanced herself from her family and friends, skipping social occasions if they involved food or beverage. As she became more fixated on her body image Danielle began to purge after meals and even take laxatives to aid weight loss. It was clear Danielle was now battling with an eating disorder, exercise addiction and body dysmorphia. 21% of those with an exercise addiction also live with an eating disorder.
Realising Danielle’s obsessive behaviours her family reached out to the Electrical Industries Charity. As an electrical apprentice Danielle and her family are eligible for support through the Apprentice Support Programme (ASP). The ASP is a key pillar in the Charity’s EAP and apprentices within our sector can even receive free mental health awareness training through the charity’s partnership with industry leaders, Aico. Danielle was assigned her own welfare caseworker, that is a member of the charity welfare team who is Danielle’s primary point of contact for emotional and practical support. Danielle was then referred for Dialetical Behaviour Therapy, a therapy which has a proven success rate in treating eating disorders. The charity sourced and funded Danielle’s therapy for twelve months. Over a third of all the cases the charity help involve mental health and well-being, in 2019 alone the charity stepped in to support 5,500 industry colleagues who were at crisis point. Therapy sessions are all supported through the charity’s Employee Assistance Programme which relies upon donations and fundraisers like the powerLottery to keep on assisting our industry.