All posts – Food Pharmacy


This blog is about gut flora, good bacteria, scientific research, and anti-inflammatory food. It’s a prescription for anyone who wishes to eat their way to a healthier life. It’s impossible to overdose on this course of treatment.

Helena Önneby

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It’s the small things we do often that have the greatest effect

It’s so easy to make a big deal out of lifestyle changes, to think that everything must happen at the same time and so it doesn’t really work now. Maybe after New Year’s. But it’s the small things we do often that make the biggest difference in our lives, to our health, our well-being and for the people around us. And we can make small shifts all the time. Through conscious choices we shape our lives every day.

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator every day will affect you more than running once a week. Drinking an extra glass of water per day will support the body more positively than gulping down four liters once in a while. Adding one extra vegetable per day is better than eating seven different vegetables in one sitting once a week.

Most of us probably know all that, it’s a recurring theme here at Food Pharmacy. But I also want to focus on what we do for our mental and emotional health. Thinking about a few things you are grateful for every day instead of making a long gratitude list once a month will support the reprogramming of the brain more. To do a body scan every evening and note if there are any emotional knots stuck during the day that need to be felt. Stopping and deepening your breath a few times a day is better than doing breathing exercises only on retreats. Choosing to forgive the small mistakes the people around us make will prepare you for when you really need to find understanding for someone else’s behavior.

And at the same time, when we break down the big, abstract “life”, into the here and now, one moment at a time, we also create the conditions for more enjoyment of life. Because it’s nice to feel the pulse in the stairs, to drink a glass of water, eat yummie vegetables, feel gratitude, release trapped emotions, breathe consciously, and choose to understand and forgive the people around you.

This is it. This moment is your life. Right now. Right here. Whatever you’re doing as you read this, this is your life. What’s real, right now. So, start here. What small step can you take here and now, or at least today, to create the conditions for more well-being, even in the long term?

Sure, sometimes we need to do things today that aren’t so nice today to create an even better tomorrow. But I think we have a lot to gain from shifting perspectives. Implement small and wonderful micro-habits today, be present for them now, and know that over time they will shift your entire life for the better.

Sometimes I use the acronym BEAT to realize which choice I need to make today, to also support the future me and others. BEAT stands for Body, Effect, Alignment and Thank.

Body – what is my body telling me I need to do right now? What intuitively feels like the right choice in this situation?

Effect – how does this choice affect myself and the people around me?

Alignment – ​​which choice is in accordance with the highest version of me? Which choice is in line with my values? And what is an automatic response to old patterns?

Thank – what choice would future me thank for in this situation?

As usual, there is a paradox here; live and be here now AND make choices that also serve your future self.

What is one small thing you can do today that you know you need?

What is the most loving choice in this situation?

Who do I want to be and how do I act when I am the person I choose to be?

What would future me thank myself for if I did now?

You create your life all the time through the choices you make in the present. What small choices are you choosing to make today?


Food Pharmacy, Helena Önneby

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Beyond the mind is a freer life

Many of us live very mind-focused lives and in a society that has great faith in, and dependence on, our thoughts. But we are so much more than just our minds. We are sentient beings, inhabiting animal bodies, who have intuition and wisdom beyond thought. Our heart sends more signals to the brain than vice versa. The more I choose to live my life beyond my mind, the freer my life feels. It’s not about finding an ‘off-button’ on our thoughts and going about without them completely, at least not for me, it’s about finding approaches to our thoughts so that we can live beyond them.

I actually have a friend who seems to have that ability though, to shut down his thoughts. When he sits down to meditate, he describes it as if he presses the ‘off-button’, and then it’s quiet up there for as long as he has chosen to meditate. Is that even possible? Maybe for some, but most people I talk to have a different kind of thought activity, one that is always in service.

When I stopped waiting for it to be quiet up there, I became so much freer to live beyond my mind, regardless of what its are doing. I have a constant commentator in there, critiquing and reviewing and planning and, well, thinking a lot of things all the time. It’s perfectly ok, it can be allowed to continue. I am not my thoughts, I have them, so I can choose to put my focus on something else and let the commentator do its thing.

“Your mind is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

Robin Sharma

Our brain is a tool to experience this life, just like our body is. But we are the one who observes both mind and body, the one who is aware of all that without having to identify with it. Today, I choose to live my life guided by my intuition, instead of my fearful mind, and these are some of the tools I use to be able to do that.


This is often what we practice in meditation. Choosing to enter the role of observer and look at the thoughts with a little distance. Like the clouds moving in the sky, like the cars passing on the road. Sometimes I entertain myself by seeing my mind activity as a little old man walking around in there sweeping, carrying, moving and organizing my thoughts. He works hard and he does a good job but I’m not him, I’m the one watching.


If the thinking activity is extra busy one day, I sit down and empty. I just turn on the faucet and simply write down everything that comes. Some things are nonsense, some I actually need to act on, some trigger emotions that I need to feel. But when I empty for a few minutes, it usually gets a little quieter in there.


My body is my best “now tool”. Through the breath, through dance, contact with nature, movement or full attention on my senses, I get out of my brain and into the present. The only thing that is truly real.


Remembering that I’m not my thoughts or my mind has helped me a lot. I often say something like: “My brain is now saying this…” or “I have a thought that says…” By separating myself from the voice that is speaking, I am reminded that it is only one of many things that happening inside me all the time, it’s not the only reality.

The Work

Maybe you’ve heard of Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’? It is an amazing and simple tool to question the thoughts. With just four questions, so much can change:

Is it true?

Can I really know it’s true?

Who do I become when I believe this thought?

What would be possible for me without this thought?

I would highly recommend you to read more and try it out at 

Reason and negotiate

My mind wants me well. It tries to protect me from danger. The only problem is that it’s a little overly anxious and thinks I’m going to die from most things. If I’m going to try something new, do something brave or go outside my comfort zone, I usually need to negotiate a bit with my mind, it can sound something like this:

“Okay, dear brain, I understand you’re panicking and thinking I’m going to get hurt now, but I’m actually just going to write a text/make a call/listen to my intuition/ask for what I need. Can we agree that I’ll test it out? Once or during a week or month? If it goes bad, we can always go back to your control, I promise. But if it goes well, maybe you’ll like it too. Do we have a deal?”

Love and compassion

It’s important to remember that the mind doesn’t wish us harm. It only seeks security and love and believes it will get there through intimidation and control. But when we can give it what it really needs, it has a tendency to calm down. “Beloved brain, I see how you struggle, and I am so grateful for you. I’m safe here, and I can hold you. Thank you for your work but you can rest now.”

Physical support

After all, the brain is a body part that needs nourishment, rest and stimulation, just like the rest of the body. If I’ve eaten poorly, slept bad or haven’t activated it correctly for a while, I can count on it to be a little extra agitated. It’s okay, then I can be aware of it and give it what it needs to feel better again.

There are many more tools to relate to that amazing servant we often call the mind or thought activity. But what lies beyond? For me, it’s intuition, presence, experiences of life that I’m actually here for, with my whole self. The mind actually has a hard time understanding and taking in the most amazing things in life, but you know. You’re not your mind, you’re not your thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mind, it’s absolutely amazing. It helps me in so many ways every day and I wouldn’t want to experience life without it. But when it gets its proper role in my life, my life becomes so much bigger, freer and richer. Maybe it’s the same for you?


Helena Önneby

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A more gentle approach to a hard life 

I used to think that too much self-love would make me weak. That more self-compassion would make me selfish. That prioritizing my own mental health would make me self-centered. That I would no longer get anything done, that I would become less generous or isolated if I losened a little, from that constant pushing. But the more I soften towards myself, the more I have to give, that realization lands deeper and deeper in me.

When I needed to find my own way on my own healing journey, I soon discovered that all those external changes didn’t really have the desired effect if I just focused there. Because the more aware I became, the clearer it became that I had a rather harsh inner climate. The inner dialogue was judgmental and controlling. I could feel self-compassion as long as I was performing and doing well, but when I did something “wrong” or failed, it got worse.

I used to think self-love was about pampering myself. That extra half hour in the bathroom with a bubble bath and nice body oils. Or a massage in the middle of the week. Or a fun dinner with friends. And all that is of course lovely but can also be quite uncomfortable if we have a harsh inner voice that judges what we are doing as unproductive or spoiled or a waste of time.

For me, self-love today is mainly about a continuously softening inner dialogue. To always remind myself that I am love, just like everyone else, and that I deserve unconditional love. And the more I give myself what I need most, gentleness, the more it spills over to others. Because my true self, without walls and self-defense, is generous and full of love.

Nowadays I often sit on the subway and notice how the love bubbles over, I feel so much love for the people around me. People I don’t know at all and probably won’t meet again. Quietly to myself, I say to my fellow passengers: I love you, I love you, I love you. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily like what I see or appreciate a particular behavior around me. It’s because I see who they really are, love, just like me, no matter what exterior is presented at that moment. I’m filled up from within me and so it naturally spills over to those around me.

And at the same time, the mean voice in me is always close. It suddenly wakes up sometimes and vividly starts waving around with harsh words, as if to make up for lost time. Then I need to soften towards that too, and realize that I can.

“I see you love, well, you’re afraid I’m going to lose something now so you harden your tone, that’s okay. You can be here. You can shout all you like. It is okay. I got you.”

I’m not the voice in my head, I’m the one witnessing that voice. I’m the one who can hold everything in my heart. And the more I soften, the stronger I become. Not because I’m invincible, but because my roots run deep. Like a tree I stand firm, even when the wind blows around me. Because the roots are in loving soil, in soft holding of everything that needs to be present in the human experience.

It’s so easy to harden when the world seems scary. But I want us to remember softness. Because when you can soften against all that, the harsh reality and the stiff walls, as well as the vulnerable and smooth, then you realize that you don’t need to defend yourself. The love you thirst for is already within you, and when you turn on that faucet, it flows freely to everything and everyone around you.


Helena Önneby

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It’s urgent, we need to slow down

I often hear expressions like “the world spins faster and faster” or “there is not enough time” or “the situation is urgent, we need to act now!”. How do you relate to those words? Does that ring true to you? If we all choose that narrative, it’s no wonder we’re stressed.

I listened to the Nigerian writer and philosopher Bayo Akomolafe at a lecture a few years ago when he said: “The times are urgent. We must slow down!” The words have stayed with me and I spend time with them sometimes. What does that actually mean?

Time has slowed down significantly in my own life experience this year. I also used to be one of those people who thought time flew by, that I couldn’t keep up with the weeks and months flowing into each other. But not anymore. Why is that?

I can’t really see any external factors influencing this. There is no big difference when I have a lot to do or a little, when the minutes are filled with many different types of activities or when I do similar things for a longer time. The only answer I find when I search is presence. It’s the quality of my presence that has changed. Because when I’m present with what is happening, when it’s happening, then the concept of time disappears while it also expands. Because a minute, consisting of 60 unique seconds, is a long time. And think how many minutes we have in an hour, a day, a week.

My intention is not to create more stress in anyone who feels the opposite, that life is running away from them. My intention is to point out the possibility. Imagine if the slowness is already here. It’s not about doing something in slow motion or necessarily doing fewer things, it’s about allowing your whole self to be there when it happens. And thus fully perceiving what is actually happening.

The solution to our common challenges is not a faster pace, more inventions, new technologies or bigger contexts. I believe that this is precisely one of the root causes of the problems we see around us. The problem is separation. From ourselves, from each other, from the present, from the earth. We need to slow down and come home. To ourselves, to each other, to the present, to the earth.

For me, presence is very much about permission. I need to allow myself to be where I am, completely. Letting go of everything else and trusting that I will know what I need to know when I need to know it. I will do what I need to do when I need to do it. But for now, I sit here and write. In a moment I will meet another person in full presence and eye contact. When I move in nature, I am there with her.

It goes without saying that there is no quick fix when it comes to presence. But there’s a slow fix and it’s already here. Breathe. Notice. Lower your shoulders. Admit to yourself that you can never, ever be anywhere else but here, so stop trying. Stop running away from yourself. You are only here, even if your thoughts drift off into stories about now and then.

It’s urgent, we need to slow down. What awakens in you when you hear the words? How could you slow down without necessarily turning your life upside down (unless you want to, of course)? Being where you are expands time, and life, and the opportunity to see what is really needed. Sometimes it’s doing, sometimes it’s being. But we need to be here to notice it, to hear our own intuition and inner guidance. To really hear each other. To learn from nature that always knows.

It’s urgent, we need to slow down. Allow yourself to be here and note what is needed.



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