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Ask Elsa: I'm a stress eater

Q I tend to overeat when I'm stressed out. Often I'm not even aware I'm doing it until afterwards. For example, I can easily get through an entire packet of biscuits without even realising it. I feel it's getting out of control, any advice?

A I would suggest you learn and adopt some mindful eating skills. Mindful eating is about being conscious of why you are eating. It's about learning how and why you eat and less about what you eat. When you are tuned into what is going on inside, you know the exact moment you are satisfied rather than being stuffed or starving.

It's human nature to avoid pain or discomfort and seek pleasure and comfort. This is often how we react to stress in our lives. Some turn to smoking, alcohol, shopping, but many turn to food as it's a particularly easy comfort to find and use. Now you're aware you are caught in a stress-eating cycle, you have the opportunity to do something different, to better deal with the stress and take care of yourself.

Engaging in mindful eating practices on a regular basis will help you discover a far more satisfying relationship with food. There are various books and courses on mindful eating and many nutritional therapists use it as part of their skill set to help clients achieve their goals.

Q My husband is anxious about developing prostate cancer since his brother was recently diagnosed with it. I read that certain foods can help improve prostate health. Is this true and if so, which ones?

A Optimum prostate health requires plenty of antioxidant vitamins and minerals which help protect the body from disease. For this reason, I would suggest he eat at least five portions of vegetables and three portions of fruit per day. Variety is key so make sure to consume as many different coloured vegetables and fruit as possible for maximum benefit. Tomatoes (raw tomatoes, paste, and tinned tomatoes) are particularly beneficial as they contain Lycopene, a nutrient specific for the prostate gland.

Medical practitioners often measure blood levels of PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) as a biomarker for prostate cancer and enlarged prostate. Elevated PSA levels are not a definite sign cancer is imminent. But given his family history, I suggest he gets it checked regularly and watches his diet.

Zinc is also a powerful antioxidant for male reproductive health, he should try snacking on pumpkin seeds -- a rich source of this mineral. Garlic may inhibit PSA production and can also reduce inflammation and irritation. Green Tea taken in tablet form for at least three months may help.

Elsa Jones is a qualified nutritional therapist. She offers one- to-one consultations to treat your individual health concerns. www.elsa jonesnutrition.ie