Welcome to the 12 Weeks to Calm – Week Four. I hope your third week into the 12 Weeks to Calm project was a good one. How are you progressing with your goals? Are you feeling calmer?
This week, we’re talking about food and the impact that it can have on mental health. Have you noticed that what you eat has an impact on how you feel? For me, too many sugary foods, too much caffeine, alcohol, or too many fatty foods upset my body as well as my brain. I cut out alcohol and caffeine about a month ago, and I feel so much better. Along with eating well and exercising, my anxiety has reduced incredibly which is such a nice feeling.
The website Mind Body Green published an article about this subject in 2012, and explained that one of the reasons while natural, whole foods reduce anxiety is because they help to keep your blood sugar level even. This stops the feelings of euphoria that comes with eating sugary foods, only to end with a crash a few hours later. If you would like to read more, the article is here.
In this newsletter I thought I would share three tips for healthy eating.
Tip One: I have been tracking my food using the free My Fitness Pal app. It is incredibly easy to use, and you can either search for or scan the bar code of foods that you have eaten and then select the serving size. Once you have input your fitness and food goals and statistics, it will give you a calorie goal for the day. You can also track your macros to see if you’re eating the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats during your day. I find tracking my food is very helpful so I am mindful of not only what I am eating, but also how much. If I don’t weigh or measure my food I end up eating far more than I actually need to. Calorie King and the Weight Watchers app all do a similar job to My Fitness Pal, as does the Lorna Jane hard copy planner.
Tip Two: Pre-pack your food. While I work in an environment where it is hard to go and buy food (unless you feel like a Paddle Pop or pre-order your lunch), many people have the tempting lure of take away, cafes and restaurants each lunch time at work. Last year, I used to order a bread roll from the canteen most days for lunch, along with a Diet Coke. This year I have been getting more organised. I pack my lunch the night before, using containers to sort it and storing it in a cool bag. Left overs, salads, or a veggie patty and steamed veggies have been making regular appearances. Fundraiser bars of chocolate on the staff room table are also easier to avoid when I plan my snacks. I love hommus, rice crackers and carrot sticks when I have a break where I can sit down. The Bar Counter bars (some with added protein) are a great option when you’re on the go, but you also can’t beat fresh fruit for a quick snack. By planning what you’re going to eat, you will avoid those tempting foods that will taste great at the time, but possibly leave you with anxiety the next day once it’s moved through your system.
Tip Three: Try something new. I aim to try a new recipe once a week or fortnight. It is so easy for me to get bogged down in the same old routine, and just make the easy recipes I could cook in my sleep. It’s always nice to shake it up a bit, whether it’s trying a new breakfast like overnight oats; a lunch like corn thins, refried beans, avocado and tomato; or a delicious vegetarian recipe like my lentil pie.
Will you try a new recipe this week? Does food affect your mood?