What’s on your plate?
Nutrition plays a significant role in our self-care. Most people know that healthy eating is a major factor that contributes to our physical health; many do not realize it also plays a vital role in our emotional health as well.
On this journey of life there have been many times I’ve tried to eat better and even succeeded. I would later reward myself for a successful day of eating well and making healthy choices.
Well… my reward consisted of having a “treat” like ice cream, cakes, or cookies. Initially I would feel great, but quickly realized I would feel bad after eating my “sweet treat”. My emotional highs and lows caused me to do some research on the human body – here’s what I found.
Our bodies have what some would call “two brains”: one run by the brain, the other run by gastrointestinal tract (or GI tract for short). The GI tract consists of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and exit areas. It is home to billions of bacteria; these bacteria influence our brain.
When we eat an overwhelming amount of healthy food, good bacteria are produced they send positive messages to our brain. (Similar to when parents receive good reports from teachers and then reward their children for the positive feedback.)
When our brain receives positive messages from the GI tract it sends signals that change our mood allowing us to feel great.
However, when we eat junk food, particularly sugar, it causes inflammation and feeds the “bad” bacteria in our GI tract. (Similar to how children will try to hide bad notes sent home from teachers to parents. What children do not realize is that parents eventually see the results of the bad reports reflected in report cards.)
The bad bacteria in our GI tract will initially send false messages to our brain causing it to allow us to feel good. These good feelings are usually followed by a quick “crash” that ultimately impacts our mood in a negative way.
When we consistently fuel our body with healthy food choices, we allow our mood to be stabilized, allowing for an overall happier outlook on life. When we feel good we are better able to take care of others with a smile. Therefore, to effectively care for others we must first care for ourselves.
Here are some healthy, whole food choices I’ve been able to implement into my diet to improve my mood. I recommend you do the same:
1. Vitamin D: This is best received from the sun, but can also be found in mushrooms.
2. Folate: It is a type of vitamin B. Eating cantaloupes and lentils can send the reward signals to our brains. Everyone likes to be rewarded.
3. Fiber: Foods rich in fiber allow our body to absorb sugar slowly leading to less sugar crashes. Fruits, vegetable, whole grains and beans are good sources of fiber.
4. Antioxidants: These help reduce inflammation. Berries, leafy green vegetables, salmon, and black chia seeds can provide our body with the antioxidants needed to keep inflammation down.
5. Magnesium: This mineral helps our heartbeat remain steady and affects the functioning of our nerves and muscles. We can find magnesium in almonds, cashews, spinach and bananas.
6. Whole Foods: Last but not least, eating real food with minimal preservatives, food coloring and other additives plays a key role in managing our moods. The “extras” in our food can negatively affect our mood, leading to hyperactivity, depression, and weight gain. Fresh vegetable and seeded fruit are best for our bodies.
Change is uncomfortable and instead of trying to go for quick, often short-lived diets, I recommend a lifestyle change. Make changes to your diet slowly.
Set a goal each week and tackle
one week at a time.
Eating healthy can boost the effectiveness of your immune system. So, increase your water intake, eat seeded fruit and meal prep with green leafy vegetables, etc.
You owe it to yourself.
Take care of home before you try to take care of the world.
Eat good food to better your mood.
You deserve the best.
I love you.
It’s time to rise!