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    Body Confidence and Mental Health - In discussion with Nilushka Perera, Behavioral Health Researcher

    Body Confidence and Mental Health - In discussion with Nilushka Perera, Behavioral Health Researcher

    1.We hear the term mental health alot. What is your definition of having a sound mental health?
    This is a complex question. 'Sound' mental health from a personal point of view is different to all of us. A good balance mentally, for me, is to be able to cope well with the ups and downs in life, be grounded in the realities of the world and gain a sense of contentment/satisfaction with all we do. The term 'Mental health' is being thrown around a lot these days, so I think it's crucial that we understand how we can help each other and the complexity of mental health and well being as a whole.  
    2. How do you see the relationship between having good mental health and your level of self confidence?
    I think having a good awareness of who you are and how your life experiences have moulded you and your thinking, makes you confident. Because you know where you stand. The confidence comes because you have worked on yourself and challenged yourself over and over again.  Your mental health and how you are feeling can have a profound impact on your confidence, but everyone has different experiences, because how people see confidence is different. It can range from putting yourself in challenging situations to even asking a question from a friend.   Having an understanding of your thoughts  can hep you gain clarity and confidence as a whole. 
    3. What are your top 3 mental hacks to be more self confident?
  • Put in the work to get to know yourself and your experiences. It helps to put things into perspective
  • Be kind to yourself. The world is a demanding place with so many expectations. 
  • Find out what works for you. There are so many people who give tips and tricks, but there is no one size fits all when it comes to mental health and well being. 

  • 4. Lot of our community struggles with negative body image. What is the root cause of this and how does mental health play a role in it.
    Well, there are many social, economical, political, health factors that can contribute to body stereotyping, so obviously there I cannot say there is one root cause for it. But on a surface level, humans are used to comparing themselves with each other. Media has aggravated it by communicating and showcasing beauty standards and ideal body sizes. The judgement that comes from others who are 'supposed' to care about you, can have a negative impact on you, and you start defining yourself through the eyes of others. We grow up with comments about our appearance ( body size, skin colour etc)  which are said in instead of simple hello. This can affect a person's mental health and their identity which can cascade to their relationships, friendships and even their career progression. 
    5.  What is your personal mantra for better mental health?
    I dont have one set matra. Because mental health is complex! 
    "Carve out time to reflect and share your experiences and be kind to yourself" is something that I carry with me. 
     I believe finding out what works for you and being clear about your role in this world, helps to bring things into perspective and stay grounded and content.  
    If you wish to reach out to someone to talk about body confidence and mental health in depth, do reach us on

    Knowing your self-worth : I guess you are happy now!

    Knowing your self-worth : I guess you are happy now!

    Ever had anyone tell you, you are not ‘suddenly’ attractive? That you are not worthy of love, you are not special or that ‘something is missing!’ When someone tells you things like this, do yourself a favour and believe it. Believe that every word that comes out of their mouth has so much depth and meaning to make you feel not worthy but never try to waste your energy finding answers, asking yourself WHY? Why suddenly? What went wrong and what did you do because he is going to tell you, it’s not your fault but anyway take someone else on a ride before a week passes by. 

    We are often blinded by love, where people just take you for granted. They tell you ‘things will change’ and ‘you are the one’ and even promise you a lifetime. Yes, marriage -till death do us apart. When people are so insecure with themselves in terms of their accomplishments when it comes to education, career, relationships and even the people around you, they will try to bring you down. They will drag you down so much, and you know it’s not the first time.

    You thought the universe brought you two together. Second time you thought ‘he has changed, he knows himself now’ but remember you can empower someone to love themselves and find their life purpose but it’s not your responsibility to fix them.

    You have already spent countless nights confused, reasoning saying ‘It’s a phase, his life is tough right now but it shall pass’ but if people are pushing you away, understand you are not a toy. You weren’t born to this world to cry. You have waited with patience with nothing but love, a shoulder to cry on and girl, you have the biggest heart for doing that. You are the biggest person to letting go because you know you are worthy, worthy of love not decided when he makes up his mind, whether it’s two weeks from now, 3 months from now. If they say ‘I will surely cheat’ – believe them. Stop doubting yourself because you don’t deserve it. You are not an experiment. Every damn second you are to feel you are worthy of love. Worthy of so much love you have for you, you shared it with someone who needs to be loved for their own flaws but still they hurt you.

    You worked so hard to complete your education , you put in so much effort to create a such a strong reputation at work, the society recognizes you and every morning you look at yourself and you tell yourself ‘ I am beautiful and I am worthy. I am confident and I can conquer the world’. You took a bold step to follow your dreams, follow your passion and achieve your goals.

    Remember nobody can bring you down unless you allow others to do so. Face the reality- he is gone, physically and mentally. Grow so much love in yourself so no one can bring you down. When life hits you with such challenges, unlike running away, love every inch of you MORE. You know the way you talk, the way all the people in the room look at you, from the way you walk you are attractive and confident. Never take off your crown to make someone else feel special, if someone is asking you to do that – immediately you know it’s nothing to do with you. You have your flaws, we all do but if you have no discipline, if you have no respect don’t expect others to respect you.

    To the new girl, we chased sunsets too. He told it was meant to be too. Our long drives with the windows down felt so REAL. Darling, no matter what happens I want you to remember the same. You are worthy of love – for a lifetime without an expiration date. You are special! It might feel RIGHT right now but also remember people aren’t true as they are always. Protect your heart, protect your beautiful soul. You are here to do amazing things and don’t let anyone, anyone tell you you are not worthy. Love yourself and go get yourself a pedicure.

    You are Fire! Get Over it!

    You are Fire! Get Over it!

    She wore her shortest black dress

    Painted her lips red

    Those big hoop earrings that represented her larger than life spirit

    Screaming legs for days..

    She took pictures of herself and thought

    ‘Dang you look fine’

    She sent her picture to him

    Double ticks -seen- but no response

    She was waiting for that ‘Babe you hot! message’ but she never got it

    She had the time of her life dancing that night with her friends

    Next day she waited for that ‘good morning beautiful’ text but all she got was

    ‘I don’t like this size of you, you don’t look great, you looked better when we got back and now you are not in shape’

    She questioned herself, she argued with him

    She told him it makes no sense to her or for the love they had

    She said it hurts but he said ‘I meant every single word’ 

    She squeezed her belly, she scarped her arm flab to manage the pain in her heart

    She cried and died a little more inside

    She was never a girl who needed motivation from someone else

    Her soul was fire, her drive - impeccable 

    She gave him his heart and he tore her apart

    He didn’t have any trouble falling asleep knowing she is upset

    He didn’t want to comfort her either

    She wondered why he loved her only on specific days and specific times..

    She cried all night, she was panting

    Her heart beat raised, her fingers went numb 

    She took the deepest breath and held it

    He made her believe that it's her fault! Her fault fot not being his physical fantasy




    Next day she woke up, she knew that no one can define beauty but herself

    She didn’t skip her breakfast either

    She put on her red lipstick, she put on her red dress

    Stared at the mirror, took a deep breath and whispered to herself,

    'You are Fire!'

    The Award for the Best Apology goes to…

    The Award for the Best Apology goes to…

    Try and think of the most ridiculous thing you’ve apologized for. Bonus points if it had anything to do with the size of your body and how inconvenient you thought it was for the other person. We hear and give so many apologies in different forms. “I’m sorry you have to find me a bigger size (even though as a retail assistant, it’s literally your job)”, “I’m sorry but I need a bigger life jacket (even though the correct fit could save my life)”, sorry for taking up space, sorry this elevator now doesn’t have the capacity to fit another person, sorry this tiny tuk tuk can now only take two people, and on and on it goes. Do we ever stop to think how NOT sorry we should be?

    Apologizing for your body, your strengths, your knowledge or your talent, is saying that your own existence is a mistake. You won’t hear an actress saying, “I’m so sorry I landed this role through my own talent”, you don’t hear a marathon-winning athlete saying, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I wish I didn’t win today”. So WHY are you apologizing for living life the way you want to live it?

    What you choose to eat, the fitness goals you aspire towards, the career you excel in, are all a part of what makes you unique. In a world full of negativity, it’s easy to second guess yourself. Give yourself a break, teach yourself resilience, have a nap. Then wake up and grab life by the balls. Time doesn’t stop for anyone; do you want to spend your life apologizing to total strangers for being yourself? Self-confidence will give you the biggest glow-up known to humankind. Raise your head up and say it together now, #IoweNOapology!

    Health and Self Love at every size – In conversation with Nutritionist, Dr. Natalie Cooke

    Health and Self Love at every size – In conversation with Nutritionist, Dr. Natalie Cooke

    Dr. Natalie Cooke is a Medical Doctor who worked at the National Cancer Hospital and later a leading private hospital where she set up the specialties of Plastic Surgery and Oncology. She meets patients and clients who are always looking to change their natural self from skin whitening to nose jobs. Later to this, she joined Vingyana as the Head of Clinical Operations and Practice Manager, where she was introduced to Integrative Medicine and Healing. This is where she decided to continue in Natural Medicine. Now Dr. Natalie uses Food as a Medicine in different forms of juices of fruits and vegetables she uses protocols for treating chronic diseases. Her mission is to empower women to embrace themselves and be mindful of Health at any size.

    1. Natalie, if you can capture your background and the work you currently do briefly?

    I practice a way of life. Integrative Medicine I like to call it. It’s a more Holistic approach to looking at the Human Body and Disease. I treat all Chronic Diseases with Nutrition, Juicing and Detoxification of the Body. You fall sick for three reasons either you are Nutritionally Deficient, you have a toxic overload or it’s your mind. Either way the food you put into your body plays a huge role. My main area is The Mind. You get what you believe in. I teach people to take responsibility for their Life and Health and do what’s right. You are always your best Doctor.


    1. You meet patients on a day today basis who ask you to help change them in physical appearance. How many actually focus on beauty within and what advice do you have for them?


    It’s a handful that look at their body and health and think of beauty. So many girls bring a magazine and ask if it’s possible for them to look that way. There are many patients that had to go through vigorous detoxification programs due to all the tablets and supplements ingested for fairness, slimming etc. It’s sad to see all these beautiful women walking through my doors believing that they need to do a lot more to be beautiful.


    1. The term Health inclusive of holistic wellness. What are your thoughts on ‘Health at any size’ and how can one make such change.


    We all have a body type. Either we are the Carb, Protein or Starch type. It’s important to know what you are and then just take precautions. Starch is just something we need for energy. So if you do a desk job from 8 to 5 that means you can go with a minimum amount of starch a day. As long as you eat Healthy and you are happily doing whatever you are doing that is all that is important.

    We need to be physically, emotionally and mentally fit. Physical fitness is all people seem to be believing in and looking for. Its actually quite simple. You eat right and you walk alittle that helps in your physical fitness. It’s the mental and emotional side that actually needs work. We need to be more mindful and live in the Present, be grateful and not take things to heart. That alone is a lot of work.


    1. It’s often misconceptualised that if you are not in the socially accepted size range, you are unhealthy. What is your opinion on that?


    People seem to think that 120/80 is the correct blood pressure, 100 is the normal range for sugar and below 200 is the normal rate for cholesterol. Everyone seems to forget that no two humans are the same. Not even twins have the same fingerprint. If we are so different how can we categorize people and say, what’s right for one should be right for all?

    There is a saying that, ‘you can’t make everyone around happy unless you are  selling Ice Cream’. Why do we even bother with what people have to say?

    There is no correct size.

    If a girl has a hormonal imbalance or an issue with her thyroid gland then there will be a fluctuation in weight. Sometimes people take quite a bit of steroids that cause weight gain that is next to impossible to lose. Those are cases for me to fix. But even in those situations you should love yourself. It is the energy we carry within that we portray out. Weight shouldn’t be a measurement on how valuable human life and self-love is. Confidence in ourselves should never change with a change in a weighing scale or color scheme.

    It’s actually quite petty.


    1. Eating disorders and its link to mental health has a huge correlation. How can one overcome such scenarios?

      Nutrition is everything in life. It’s very important that we eat the right food and get a balanced diet. This is not possible as most people are on various diets that don’t suite their body.

    People either don’t eat at all, they eat very less or they eat the wrong food. Eating disorders used to be Anorexia, Bulimia and so on. But now I also need to add Binge eating, the hoax of having to eat 5-6 meals per day, overdoing meat and fat, excessive amounts of supplements, powdered versions of liquid meals, overcooked meals, refrigerated food etc.

    Most of the items listed above are actually dead food. It doesn’t nourish your body. When you don’t receive the right nourishment your organs, blood and tissues are deoxygenated one by one. Our blood carries no value to our body. This leads to illnesses. When there is less oxygen in the blood it also passes to our brain. When we are malnourished and toxic, we mentally carry low energy as well.

    The answer to all this is, you eat when you are hungry because that’s your body clock. Drink your water, get 15 minutes of sunlight a day, walk 30 minutes, have a well-balanced social life, sleep 8 hours every night and keep smiling.


    1. What support can you offer to anyone struggling with body image, proper nutrition and building confidence? How can they stay in touch?

    First of all, please don’t correlate your body image to your confidence. You don’t have to lose or gain weight to be beautiful. It comes from within. Love yourself no matter what. Be proud of who you are and what you have achieved so far. Love the journey and don’t always look to a destination. Live in the moment and be grateful that you are alive and kicking. There are many who would love to live the life you are living right now.


    You can contact me on my Facebook or Instagram pages, Dr Natalie Cooke.