FEEL BETTER WITH FOOD
MANAGING COVID-19 STRESS
Part 4 out of 4 SELF CARE SERIES
It doesn’t take a doctor to tell us that the food we eat contributes to our health and overall well-being. Poor nutrition can negatively affect weight maintenance, diseases, stress, and alertness. Feel better with food? Eating the correct foods have the potential to boost mood, improve body’s inflammation, reduce stress and short term memory loss.
Most of us know this. So, why is it so difficult to eat well for our health?
The “bad” food tastes so good!
There are many reasons why it’s difficult to eat healthy. It might not necessarily be that we lack self-control, but we live busy, stressful lives. Right now, many primary caregivers are working at home, homeschooling, on top of regular daily household pressures. Who has the time and energy to make every meal healthy? Reaching for a box of mac & cheese or grabbing some take-out can be a huge time saver! However, the bad news is that both processed foods and sugar are highly addictive. Processed food manufacturers are in the business to entice us with food that tastes good, not necessarily good for us. So, even indulging a few times can leave us wanting more and create a vicious cycle of unideal choices.
What does good nutrition look like?
It’s not easy to create new habits but for the good of our health here is a general guide to help start. In a nutshell, some of the most amazing self-care foods include blueberries, nuts, broccoli, fatty fish, leafy greens, and avocado.
Feel Better with Food: What Foods Should We Be Eating?
Fruits and Veggies
Definitely a blog in itself! Fruits and vegetables are an integral part of a healthy diet, as covered in a previous blog post here. I can’t say enough about their importance when it comes to health.
Eating food to promote sleep
Catching enough zzz’s is an indispensable part of maintaining good health and balance. Poor quality sleep increases your risk for so many health ailments and chronic diseases. Sleep deprivation creates a psychological battle which reduces quality of life, creating a negative impact on depression, anxiety and your overall mental health.
Foods that can naturally promote sleep and alleviate insomnia:
- Tart cherries – A natural source of melatonin, which is a hormone that is responsible for making us sleepy.
- Bananas – Contain potassium, magnesium and tryptophan, all which can alleviate insomnia.
- Almonds – An excellent source of magnesium, a natural relaxer.
- Chamomile tea – there have been several studies to support numerous health benefits, including promoting sleepiness. Chamomile contains antioxidants that bind to specific brain receptors to reduce insomnia and induce sleepiness.
Fat is Back
Not all fat is created equal. Saturated fats and trans fats can spike our risk of diseases. However, healthy fats, found in olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, fresh tuna, sardines), avocados and nuts, are linked to positive hormone function, inflammation reduction and improved absorption of other nutrients.
Healthy fats help with brain health, reducing anxiety and depression. A 2011 study found medical students’ level of anxiety decreased by 20% with increased omega-3 fatty acid intake.(1)
Seeds & Nuts high in omega 3s:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Nuts are usually high in fat as well as sources of protein and fiber.
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
Ditch the Sugar!
This section could also be a blog itself! Sugar is in so much of what we consume, often added to food for flavour or preservation, such as:
- Soft drinks
- Fruit drinks
- Baked goods
- Processed foods
- White breads
Sugar can be difficult to spot on food labels as there are many common names for it, like corn syrup, sucrose or agave nectar. Consuming too much sugar can cause many dangerous health conditions, including weight gain, increased chance of diabetes and chronic inflammation.
Slashing your sugar intake promotes heart health and mental health. It lowers the risk of diabetes and other diseases.
GORGEOUS SKIN ALERT!
Reducing sugar in your diet will lessen sagging skin, giving it a plumper appearance. It also reduces the chance of premature wrinkles.
Limit Processed Food
In a society where we are dominated with easily accessible & readily available food for a fraction of the cost of whole food, processed and packaged food can be difficult to avoid. It often comes with many additives, chemicals, and flavours that wreak havoc on your health. Not only that but how it is prepared and stored is also part of the concern. Processed food is engineered to promote the shelf life and improve flavour for overconsumption.
Processed food is the main contributor of the rising prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure, chronic diseases and depression. It often lacks nutrition, usually high is sugar, sodium and saturated fat. And, as we have already touched on… it is highly addictive!
Processed food isn’t just ‘fast food’… it is also in our cupboards!
- Granola bars
- Microwave popcorn
- Dried fruit
- Cheese slices/strings
Try to eat more whole foods; food that is grown in the ground or trees and less from a can, box or freezer.
Low fat | low carb | starvation | diet pills | calorie counting
The diet culture has taken over. The pressure to be thinner & prettier if we just drop a few pounds. But what has this done to our overall health and how we feel about ourselves?
Swinging between diets and weight can be detrimental to metabolism, hormones, and blood sugar levels. The merry go-round of food restriction is not only affecting our waist line but our mental, physical and emotional, social and financial health in a negative way. Research also shows that most people who lose weight from dieting end up gaining it back and more.
Implementing regulated eating habits is a lifestyle choice. Focusing on sustainable, long term strategies for healthy eating instead of a restrictive diet will help maintain a more balanced mood and weight with an improved overall health.
Many of us struggle to eat healthy. Breaking bad habits is so hard! It is not always easy to resist the french fries or a sugary soft drink. However, it is important to understand how it affects our health and the reasons for having a balanced daily diet for good health are multifold.
Keep Healthy Food Readily Available
The foods we eat have big impacts on our quality of life. A healthy diet is protecting our health and well-being. Try to shop where the healthy food lives, which is the outer aisles of the grocery store. Reading labels and reframing your weekly menu, stocking fridge with more fruits and vegetables might reduce binge eating and help you make better choices when we are hungry.
The Bottom Line…
Start with small changes so it isn’t so overwhelming. If you slowly incorporate these suggestions it can make it more sustainable. As you begin to feel better… and trust me, you will… it will become easier and easier. Healthy eating might even be enjoyable!
Eat Good = Feel Good.
(1) Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial