Have you ever noticed that if you eat something “unhealthy,” you don’t feel great? For example, if you’re eating gluten when your body is sensitive to it, you may experience exhaustion. Or, if you’re unused to consuming dairy, you might get bloated.
Even more than feeling tired or bloated, your diet has a huge impact on your entire body, including your mental health. Research has shown a direct relationship between the gut and the brain. In fact, the gut is now being called the second brain. Eating has been proven to affect your mood and executive functions.
When you don’t eat well, you don’t deal with life’s curveballs well either. Your resilience takes a hit.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the food you eat and your overall mental health including your propensity towards depression.
The eating options available to us today are mind-boggling. You can be a vegetarian, a vegan, eat paleo, keto, raw, gluten-free or, basically, anything under the sun.
How do you determine what is best for you? What can you do when you have so many choices?
Finding what’s right for you.
I don’t have the answer to that question, but here are some options people have tried:
- Track your food & mood!
No one has a better answer to what makes you tick than you. In order to understand how various ingredients you ingest affect you. It is very useful to track yourself.Keep a food & mood journal. As you eat, jot down what foods you ingest, your mood before eating, perhaps your mood after eating, any physical symptoms, emotional responses, etc.Don’t know where to start? Here are two printable food & mood trackers that you may use: check out the journal from the Personal Nutrition Guide or from Medi Health.
- The Whole 30
The Whole 30 is an elimination diet that, as its name indicates, lasts all of 30 days. During this time, you’re eliminating what are considered to be “inflammation-causing” foods, such as processed foods, refined sugar (and all alternative sweeteners), gluten, and dairy, while ingesting mainly “whole” foods. What this means is that, instead of having a smoothie, you’re encouraged to eat the fruits that would be used for the smoothie.This diet will allow you to actively observe both the impact of such a radical shift in eating habits as well as your body’s true reaction to eating the foods that are normally part of your diet.
- Change your eating schedule
Intermittent Fasting is a current dietary fad, but one that has had proven results on both the physical and mental health of many of its converts. Many intermittent fasters have reported increased mental focus at the height of their fast, as well as normalized sleeping schedules and more overall energy.The fasting schedule can vary greatly for each person, from eating every day within a 6-, 8-, or 10-hour window to fasting 24 hours and eating normally the rest of the time.Be careful! Fasting might be a proven path to good health, but it involves eating the right foods to succeed.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. Keep in mind that these are suggestions and that if you have any health issues, you should consult with your doctor before experimenting with your diet. However, if you want help and support in exploring these options, feel free to reach out to me to book a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On that note, here are 2 things that have helped my clients in the past, and that you can do today:
- Drink more water
Did you know that the average healthy intake of water is anywhere between 2 and 3 liters per day? Now, ask yourself: how much water have you been drinking? Dehydration, caused by a lack of water intake, has been proven to cause “unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones.” So start downing some more of that liquid clarity! It’ll make an almost immediate difference if you don’t usually drink enough.
- Eat less sugar
Studies have shown that processed or added sugars increase the risk of health issues, namely heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Much of the excess caloric intake in the average American comes from added sugars. In fact, about one in ten people get their caloric intake from added (or processed) sugars!Cutting back on your sugar intake can make a huge difference on both your physical and your mental health. If you’re craving something sweet, have a fruit!
Has this advice helped you regain focus and resilience? If so, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment or send me an email at email@example.com to share your story.