Soooo I’m slightly late to the game with this weeks ‘Wellness Wednesday‘ post and for that I must apologise. BUT I shall make up for it now by branching out beyond my usual single topic of wellness discussion (you can check out past weeks HERE, HERE and HERE) to chat all things food AND mental health related. What a diabolical combination!
Although the two things probably seem kind of unrelated, they actually go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Salt and caramel. Avocado and… anything really (I think you get the picture). One of the primary reasons I quit sugar was to assess the impact removing it would have on my mental health. I’d stumbled across quite a bit of research that discussed the link between excess sugar consumption and raised levels of anxiety and/or depression and so I was keen to see if lowering my intake levels would have a positive impact on the way I think and feel.
The verdict? It absolutely, 100% helps. It makes sense as substances like sugar help trigger an inflammatory response in our bodies, and inflammation seems to be a big factor in mental health issues but whatever the science-y stuff is cutting down on the sweet stuff is a godsend for my mind. I am not going to say that I am ‘cured’ of my mental health issues, nor am I going to say that they aren’t still apparent in some way or form at some times during my days/weeks/months BUT their management has become easier. I feel better about myself. Less fuzzy. More motivated (sometimes).
What I have to be careful of now however is falling into the trap that I fell into last night. Having a modicum of success with healthy lifestyle changes can place someone like me on a precariously thin ledge. When I do start to feel a bit blah again or when my thought patterns start to spin around and get a little noisier than usual, I can be very quick to play the blame game and pull the ‘Why me? This isn’t fair when I do all these positive things for myself’ card. ‘What’s the point?’ I (sometimes) whine bitterly. ‘I may as well just go back to doing X, Y and Z, putting myself last, forgetting to eat/exercising sporadically/staying in bed instead of getting up 10 minutes earlier to try and meditate etc etc.’ It’s times like these when I need to pull back from that metaphorical ledge and remind myself of how far I’ve come in 5 months , how often I felt fuzzy, unmotivated and miserable back then and how generally good I feel now.
What I put in my mouth therefore plays a pretty massive role in my happiness and anxiety levels. Eating well makes me feel well, it’s as simple as that. What else do I do to manage my anxiety and OCD?
- I take medication. Every day. 20mg of the stuff to be exact.
- I get outside, usually with my toddler and generally somewhere green or beachy. It helps clear my head and get the happy endorphins flowing.
- I leave my phone behind at some point in the day and disconnect. My fave time to do this is late afternoon when I’m out playing with Ollie. It AMAZES me how good it feels to be phone-free and relatively ‘hidden’ from the online world.
- I take fish oil, probiotics and when I remember, iron supplements pretty much everyday.
- I eat takeaway once a week. I love collapsing with my hubby, putting on an episode of our favourite series and ordering in. I don’t eat junk food and I don’t tend to order from chains but I still eat things like pizza and my fave, lebanese food. I just hold the dessert.
- I eat cake. Some weeks I can take or leave sweet stuff, other weeks I really fancy brownies or muffins or similar. I find cooking in general very meditative and relaxing so spending some time on a Monday, whipping up something yummy. As I’m fructose-free, I generally make my baked goods from scratch so that I can control what goes in (and what stays out).
- I eat breakfast. Every. Single. Day. If I don’t eat breakfast my blood sugar goes cray-cray-crazy and I feel, to put it mildly, like crap. I don’t do well with an empty stomach so making sure I eat or drink something nourishing sets me up to have a good day.
That’s pretty much it. Nothing fancy! Just a few simple things that help keep me on track. I guess the primary theme running through is taking time, when I need it, even it’s only a couple of minutes, to make sure I’m taking care of me, as best as possible. It’s 100% a work in progress but I’m slowly starting to ride through the ups and downs, accept them for what they are and let go of some of my more unrealistic expectations for what the ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ life looks like.
To finish up, I couldn’t not share this smoothie recipe. I came across the original version over at a gorgeous website, Vegan Sparkles, I tweaked it a little as I’m not vegan and wanted to squish a little more goodness in, but it essentially remains true to its roots. I give you the banana bread smoothie, quite possibly the best thing I’ve drunk in a very long time.
- 1 cup of milk (I use full fat, non-homogenized organic milk but keen to try fresh almond milk as well)
- 1 small banana, frozen
- 2 dates, pitted and soaked for a few minutes in hot water to soften
- blob of pure vanilla essence or pure vanilla bean paste
- shake of cinnamon
- shake of allspice
- a tablespoon or so of chia seeds
Whizz it all up.. and drink! AMAZING every single time. I am in love.
I’d LOVE to know.. what’s your fave breakfast option that’s rocking your socks of at the moment? Share in the comments!
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