Well Now Explorer January 2021 start

Live zoom session Mondays  07:00 – 8.30pm.https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85804373584

Meeting ID: 858 0437 3584 Passcode: 078019

Email questions for live session: lucy.aphramor@gmail.com

Follow up from live session:

  1. Here’s the image of the Dinner Plate. (It’s too large a file to upload  as a handout.)
    Food for Thought Dinner Plate
  2. Vitamin D and magnesium are two more micronutrients where average intake may be low and a supplement may improve mental wellbeing. 


Magnesium is found in legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach); fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods; milk, yogurt, and some other milk products. 

Magnesium supplements can have anti-anxiety effects. (The recommended upper intake of 350mg/day). Here’s more information.

Vitamin D

NHS guidance is that UK adults should take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March. If you have a low mood you might wish to take it all year.

(There have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. But there is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D to prevent or treat coronavirus.)

Activity One

Making Sense of Weight Science 

Inevitably, we are shaped by the worldview (or cosmovision) of the society we are born into.

In my case, growing up in England I was taught that only Western science had anything useful to teach us about nutrition. 

At university I learnt that ‘science’ was value-free, that good science was free from bias and could be applied universally.

Later on I learnt that new, more useful ways of thinking about science existed. And I also learnt that there are many ways of knowing things aside from science.

I learnt that when my lecturers had been talking about science, they had actually been talking about just one particular type of science, called reductionist science. Reductionist science is not the only type of western science but it is the dominant one.

We have explored how reductionist science explains benefits of the Mediterranean diet through nutrients, not commensality (eating together). We also saw that the scientific project had no regard for connection with the land or honouring the earth.

What happens when we use reductionist science to explore weight and wellbeing?

. . Is that the data gets twisted. Here’s a pathway:

First, the research data suggests that dieting is harmful.

Second, this is ignored.

Third, the fake-news that ‘the science says everyone should be BMI 20-25 and you can and must diet to get there’ is promoted by experts as if it is True, as it if is Science.

Fourth, people are thoroughly confused, their own behaviours are steeped in mystery, blame and shame, and no-one is talking about trauma or oppression.

Why? One reason is that power tells us science is beyond scrutiny. Another reason is power teaches us to be anti-fat. When we hear ideas that contradict our truths they ‘feel wrong’ to us. We believe our feelings are a good barometer of the truth. So we use our intellect to match our feelings to our beliefs. This mainly happens unconsciously. We can change this by consciously exploring our feelings and beliefs, especially  when we hear things that disturb us.

If you want to see how I unpick the myths of reductionist science you can watch this video:

A Few More Thoughts

When ‘science’ is assumed to be reductionist science, we get damaging narratives that align with dominant power and erase a lot of knowledge.

For instance, can we really hope to explain the benefits of the Mediterranean diet by profiling its nutrient content? This mindset exaggerates the role of nutrients in human wellbeing (in a concept called healthism) and it strips away culture and relationships (one consequence of capitalist values).

In the same way, all too often, we hear the term ‘philosophy’ being used as if it is synonymous with scholarship from western philosophy. If we talk about ‘philosophy’ this way we exclude other philosophical traditions such as those from African, Latinx and Indigenous scholars. This is how power works to keep dominant opinions dominant and devalue marginalised opinions, even when personally we don’t intend this to happen.

Activity Two

Poetry, Plantains, Power, and Pleasure!  

Knowledge is being created all around us. The Caribbean poet Grace Nicols passes on her knowledge of nutrition in this short poem Like  a Beacon . It’s about a fat black  woman who goes shopping in London.

Here’s some questions if you’d like to explore the topic further:

  • A plantain is a type of banana. Is this a high fat, high protein or high carbohydrate food?
  • Let’s say there were no plantains left but the shopkeeper offered Grace some fresh pasta instead – on special offer! Would that make a good substitute?
  • Plantains and pasta are both high carbohydrate foods. In a scientific way of making sense of nutrition they are quite similar. What gets missed?
  • What does the poet evoke when she talks of food?
  • What happens if we reduce food to nutrients?
  • How does this shape attitudes to eating, and our overall wellbeing?

In case you’re curious…

More Notes on Reductionism or the Mechanistic World View

Conventional western science seeks to understand and explain things by breaking them down into separate parts. This works pretty well for cars and machines. But not so well when applied living bodies.

When we’re taught as if this is the only way of thinking we inevitably end up using it,  so it structures the world we live in and create. What do you think of the way this shapes healthcare services?

By asking ourselves questions like this we have started critiquing (thinking about from several different view points) the underlying model – reductionism. Reductionism takes things separately from one another – so it would consider plantain and pasta interchangeable in the poem by isolating the foods as ‘starchy staples’ out of the context of the poet’s life. Instead of reductionism we can understand things be considering interconnection, not isolation. 

The belief that there is one valid way of ordering reality is called universalism.

In fact, plenty of cultures recognise there are a multiplicity of ways we can know about the world, called pluriversalism. How we order beliefs influences how we understand personal, global and planetary wellbeing.

Activity Three

“Follow the Pleasure” 

You might have noticed the enormous pleasure I get from alliteration (when words start with the same letter)!! The mouth feel! The acoustics! The satisfaction!

We’re exploring pleasure here, this time in connection to eating.

Are memory, and sense of connection valid reasons for deciding what to eat?

What does it feel like if you think of eating something for pleasure? Lucy in a blue top holding a queen of pudding and grinning

Do you have a paper plate  handy? And coloured pens are great too if you have them.

  • think of a meal or food that you have really enjoyed
  • spend a little while imagining yourself anticipating this, and then imagining yourself eating it
  • draw the meal or food in the centre of the plate
  • can you name what made it enjoyable? write these words around the circumference
  • you may have written down terms that relate to place, occasion and company. Great!
  • you may also have written down terms that relate to the actual food. If so, how are you making sense of the actual food? what are these words describing? I’ll give you a clue to the answer I’m thinking of – there’s five key categories.
  • what messages have you incorporated around pleasure? do you have feel for how these messages about pleasure influence how you currently connect with the world  – and hence food – through your senses?

red admiral butterfly on yellow flower group of young adults smiling

Activity Four

Language and Possibility 

The author Ursula La Guin said ‘words are events’. What do you think she meant by that? Do you agree?

Does how you speak to yourself matter? What about how we speak about each other?

In any society language reproduces and reflects the way it orders the world. IN this sections we look at language, which , anti-fatness. Remember, you get to skip any activity that doesn’t feel like a right fit for you at the moment. Be respectful  of your own precious self, honour your story. The right pace is what is right for your psyche and permits healing.

Ok. If you’re sure ~

woman wearing hijab eating with tv onI will give a list of words and ask you to notice your response in each case. Ideally, consider them one by one. 

What is your initial response? How do you feel? What comes to mind next? What other words or images do you associate with this word? What are the beliefs that structure these words and images?

Are there other words you want to add? Any words you want us to discuss as a group on zoom?

tall                    short                   fat                 thin    

             vitality                        health

overweight                       fitness                  normal weight

Activity Five

Nutrition Science for Real Life 

This video covers two activities.

The Well Now Doughnut might help you structure meals.

The Well Now GAMES activity is something you can use to help you check in from time to time as you make links between how you are feeling and what you have eaten.

Here’s the teach-sheet too.

Activity Six


Activity Seven 


How about a 2 minute time-out from thinking by tuning in to stillness, or your body?

Activity Eight

A Poem Celebrating ‘Unspeakable’ Appetites

This short poem by the late Canadian poet Gwendolyn MacEwen is included as an invocation to all that is life affirming in the exploration of appetite. It seemed fitting in a pandemic, and everything. I hope there’s something you connect with in her words. you

Are there any songs, poems, pictures that you have turned to for support over the last year? 

Remember, the most important thing for the learning and healing that’s happening here is that you explore your feelings and beliefs. This means being able to engage, and this means pacing yourself.  Don’t worry about doing everything that’s suggested, amount doesn’t matter. It’s more important that you can be present with whatever you do, even for a short time and even for a tiny amount.

Last question, what are you looking forward to? Have you got any treats planned? If not,  now is a great time to put something in your diary!

See you soon ~