Your mind and emotions cannot be separated from your body. Your feelings, emotions, mood, and mental energy are all impacted by what is- and isn’t on your plate.
Many of us have heard that “food is information” or “food is medicine” and it’s true. Your entire system, including your brain, responds to the type and quality of fuel that it receives. You have the opportunity, each time you eat to provide your body, mind, and emotions with fuel that is supportive of your wellbeing or fuel that taxes and stresses the body-mind.
Eating high-quality, nutrient-dense foods sets the foundation for strong mental, emotional, and physical health. Processed and refined foods lack nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, essential fats, and fiber, which serve multiple important protective functions. Substances such as added sugar, preservatives, additives, and other chemicals in processed, packaged, and prepared foods can increase inflammation, free radicals, and blood sugar imbalance. The all-important gut microbiome, home to trillions of good bacteria, is also highly influenced by your nutrition; hormones that regulate mood, sleep, and energy can all be affected.
This can be a complex topic, but boosting your mood doesn’t need to be a mystery. Start by noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods. Begin to eliminate added sugars, including artificial sweeteners, processed meats, and hydrogenated fats and oils. When you do eat something in a box or bag, make sure you recognize all the ingredients. Add in lots of colorful vegetables, whole fruits, beans and legumes, unrefined grains, and healthy fats such as avocado and unsalted, raw nuts and seeds, as well as grass-fed and pastured animal foods. Swap out alcohol and coffee for plain and sparkling water, and herbal teas. Get creative with a few fresh herbs and spices. Become the ultimate expert on you by becoming more aware of how you feel when consuming anything your particular body and mind are sensitive to.
-Anna Sandbank, LCSW
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