We've all heard the saying "you are what you eat" but it is so true, especially when it comes to mental health and whole body wellness. If your body isn't getting what it needs, it freaks out, leaving you tired stressed and more emotional than is really you.
So what can be done? Here are my top 3 ways you can nourish your body to help you feel calm.
1. Balance Your Blood Sugar. Not just for diabetics, blood sugar regulation is important for everyone! Think of the last time you saw a bunch of kids at a birthday party with cake. They have all this energy and then crash! Meltdowns! Moods all over the map! The same things happen to us as adults! When you eat crap your blood sugar goes on a roller-coaster ride and takes your emotions along for fun! So what can you do? In general, most people feel less anxious eating less carbohydrates and sugars and increasing their fruits, vegetables, fats and proteins. It doesn't mean you can never eat cake (although you might want to check out this recipe). It's about shifting the balance away from things that wire you up towards things that keep you calm.
2. Replenish Nutrients. A standard north american diet can be deficient in many nutrients. Minerals are removed from our foods through the refining process and that leaves many people deficient in minerals. One to watch for is magnesium, which deficiency of manifests as anxiety in some people. Omega-3 fatty acids is another nutrient in which the modern diet does not have enough in. Try switching from meat to fish or seafood 2 nights a week. The last "nutrient" is a bit outside the usual definition but we traditionally got it from our foods, probiotics. Due to the wonders of refrigeration we eat way less fermented foods than our traditional diets and with the advent of processed foods we are eating less fibre (food for our good microbes) and more preservatives (things that kill microbes). The relationship between our microflora and our mood is emerging and restoring these beneficial bacteria can be the key to wellness in all kinds of disorders, including anxiety.
3. Movement. We all know exercise is good for us but so many of us don't spend enough time moving. I know when I'm stressed I need to move even more, but that's often when I feel like it least. A friend recently said to me "when I don't feel like going to the gym, that's when I know I have to go." What they have discovered, along with may other people who use exercise as their medicine of choice for mental health maintenance, is how powerfully uplifting is to be moving in your body.
When we feel stressed and anxious, when we are tired because we didn't' sleep, it's easy to go with the "treat" mentality. I deserve this chocolate bar. I need this coffee. I'm too tired to go to yoga, I'll watch TV instead. I know I've said each of those things at some point or another. But in those moments when we are tired/stressed/anxious what we need most is to nourish ourselves. So go for a walk, make yourself a salad for dinner and throw a piece of fish on it. Your brain will thank you.
Love, Dr. Katie