You Are What You Eat

5 July, 2013

Have you ever wondered how what you eat affects your brain and emotional health?

I have become more and more interested in nutrition this year. All of us have had the experience before of eating something and then not feeling so good afterwards. Imagine if you were eating the kind of food that consistently caused you to not feel good, but you didn't know what it was?

Nutrition is a huge area and I would like to declare that I have never had any formal education or training in the topic; my interest is personal and I've educated myself over the years through reading and experimenting. I am interested for the following reasons:
  • as someone who commutes on the train most days and is a witness to what people are willing to put into their mouths on a daily basis, without a second thought to what affect it might have on their brain and body!
  • from a consumer's perspective: I find it very difficult to walk into a cafe or a restaurant and find the kind of food I want to eat. Most items available are exactly the foods my body doesn't like
  • from a personal coaching perspective: I see a lot of clients who are either anxious, depressed, can't sleep or don't have much energy. And if there's one thing I have learned, is what we eat and drink makes a huge difference to all of these things. What you put inside your body on a daily basis is something to seriously consider if you have any of the above concerns
The Six Pillars of Optimal Health

According to Patrick Holford, nutrition expert, there are six key processes that occur inside your body that are pivotal to your overall health. They are:
  • blood sugar control
  • detoxification and inflammation
  • good mood and memory
  • super immunity
  • hormones in balance
  • good digestion and food sensitivity
You can read any number of his books, or go to his website to do a free quiz to find out where you might be struggling, and which ares you need to focus on improving.

His stance is that the majority of health problems can be prevented by paying attention to your diet and nutritional intake.

I would like to make a few points here, based on my own personal research and experience, that are worth noting if you want to improve your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • follow the 80:20 ratio: there's no need to completely deprive yourself of the food you love that may not be nutritionally rich: just eat in moderation. 80% of the time you consume for nutrition, and 20% can be 'treats'
  • eat to keep your blood sugar stable: for me, this is probably the most important. If I eat or drink things that artificially spike my blood sugar, especially in the evening, I end up feeling slightly 'hungover' the next day - even though I've had no alcohol. I also then crave the same kinds of foods that give my blood sugar that same high, as my brain mistakingly believes it's going to be the only thing that fills me up. Then I am stuck in a cycle of consuming nutritionally-poor foods and putting on unnecessary weight. I will also be more prone to feeling anxious, addled (not concentrating so well) and not sleeping as well
  • foods that spike blood sugar that should be avoided: anything made with refined sugars and saturated fats - i.e. ice cream, cakes, sugary drinks i.e Coke etc., anything made with white flour - i.e. white pasta, white bread, carbohydrates without the balance of protein - i.e. a slice of toast with jam on it, caffeine, alcohol, pastries - i.e. pies, sausage rolls or anything deep fried, and white rice
  • foods that release energy into your blood slowly and keep your blood sugar stable and keep you fuller for longer: foods with a low Glycemic Load - i.e. wholegrain carbohydrates, wholemeal and wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta, Quinoa, brown, red or black rice, wholemeal cous cous, fresh fruit and vegetables, combine quality protein sources - i.e. lean meat, fish, eggs, chickpeas, nuts and seeds - with low GL carbohydrate - i.e. hummus on wholegrain bread, an apple with almond butter, drink water, herbal teas, and mix juice with water to reduce your sugar intake
  • increase your intake of sources of Omega 6 (corn, sunflower and sesame seeds; Borage and Blackcurrant seed oil) and Omega 3 (flax, hemp, pumpkin and walnuts; wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, marine algae, eggs)
  • never go to bed hungry, or too full (don't eat too late) and try to eat something as soon as you wake up
  • stay hydrated and try to drink pure water. If you think you're hungry, you're probably actually thirsty! Have a glass of water first
  • the quality of your diet basically starts at the supermarket! The more planned and considered you are in your purchasing, the better planned you will be throughout the day and less likely to grab the quickest and easiest snack - which is likely to be the worst for you.

I would love to hear from any of you that have experience in this area, too! And especially from anyone who wants to share suggestions for healthy snacks. Leave a comment and let's chat. Love Charlotte.

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