Eating Your Way to Self-Care Healthy Foods, Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies...

The past two years have left plenty of us concerned about our mental health as we burrowed down in our homes and avoided social interaction due to the current social and economic climate. (Unfortunately, in some regions of the world, this is still a present reality.)

One way to embrace our self care is to properly consume foods that are nourishing to the body for keeping ourselves happy, healthy, and whole! Striving to eat a healthy diet regularly is key to maintain our overall well-being. Your body can’t perform at its peak if you spend long periods without eating.

Brain fog, exhaustion, and headaches are possible side effects when skipping meals. To ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs, eat various healthy foods throughout the day. As a result, your blood sugar levels will remain constant helping you to feel more energetic.

Fiber, Water, Fruits – Oh My!

Fiber is critical for a steady supply of energy, and it’s likely that many of the everyday items in your kitchen are rich in fiber. Consider beans, lentils, frozen peas, and whole grains like barley or quinoa as sources of pulses (for vegans).

Make sure you drink plenty of water (but not to the point of overhydration). Driving the right amount 0f water and/or herbal teas helps to keep your cells healthy and energized. The simple fact that thirst could be confused for hunger means that staying hydrated also helps to minimize overeating.

Eat a rainbow of seasonally-available fruits and vegetables. Whole foods of every color, such as red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow onions, bananas, green spinach, blue and purple aubergine, and red cabbage, should be included in your diet daily to ensure that you obtain a broad spectrum of nutrients.

Dark Chocolate is Your Friend

When endorphins, the brain’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, attach to receptors in the brain, the result is euphoria, comparable to that experienced after engaging in strenuous physical activity. They also help alleviate pain and minimise the detrimental consequences of stress. Dark chocolate is a mood booster, but it’s also high in antioxidants and its good for your brain.

Don’t get me wrong! True dark chocolate is nothing like the chocolate candies and other “high fructose corn syrup”-filled products on the market. When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to grab the chocolate and sugary snacks. Sugary foods give you a temporary burst of energy resulting in a crash that leaves you feeling much worse later. Slow-release energy sources include healthy grains and fresh fruit with protein and fat; a fast and simple choice is an apple with a few cheese slices (or peanut butter for vegans).

Planning Ahead

Meal planning saves you time at the grocery store. It also helps you assess and utilize what you already have at home. Creating an actual grocery list before you leave the house minimizes your chance of grabbing a lot of “junk foods” that aren’t on your list. Better yet, consider buying your groceries online and have them delivered to your car while you enjoy a few moments to yourself. Nevertheless, strive to think ahead regarding meals. So go ahead and create your general plan for next week’s meals. That way you can mix cupboard staples with some fresh ingredients as early as possible in the week.

Cooking & eating mindfully

It is no accident that the term “mindfulness” has grown so popular in the mental health community. Allowing your mind a rest by forcing yourself to focus only on the task at hand is an excellent approach to recharging your (inner) battery. When I cook, I try to focus my attention on the task at hand and be present at the moment thus reducing the risk of cuts and burns, along with avoiding over or undercooking your food.

On the other hand, there are several psychological advantages to cooking for others, such as enhancing one’s self-esteem and raising happiness. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; you can just FaceTime a friend while making a great pasta meal, or you and your spouse may work together to master a new recipe.

Once you have your plate fixed, sit down and try to eat mindfully. This is something to strive for at least once a day (or for one meal each day). During that time, be sure to take a break from electronic distractions so you can savor every bite. In taking the time to prepare, give your body time to enjoy it, to savor every morsel!

If sharing a meal with family or friends, meals are great way to reconnect with your loved one. Reconnecting with your loved ones over dinner is a terrific way to improve your mental health, and it’s also keeps the lines of communication open, providing a means for everyone to get to know each other better. If family or friends are at a distance, then schedule a group supper via FaceTime or Skype. Lovingly preparing your food and mindfully consuming it, is your foods way of showing you love right back. #dphealer

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