Monthly Archives: December 2019

How does food affect your mood?


The alarm goes off. You jump in the shower, get dressed, wake the children and go and prepare the breakfast.  You pack the lunches, make sure homework is in, find the missing shoes, pants, hairbrush, etc, check your phone, butter toast, put on a wash, check the time and finally leave the house.  After dropping the children off, you head to work. Big breath in, you realise all you have had this morning was a cup of coffee. No time to stop though, you keep going.

Sound a little familiar? This was me a few years ago, 4 out of 5 mornings a week. My day started with a coffee and sometimes I would not eat until mid-morning, when I usually have a headache anyway. More times than not, I would have a scone and another coffee, very rarely a healthy choice.

My lunch was usually healthy, but could be closer to 3pm some days before I would be able to eat. By the time I picked up my children, unpacked the bags, took out the washing, put on the dinner, finished off work reports from the day, did the rest of the million and one things, I was fit for nothing. What I was doing to myself was the equivalent of running my car without putting any petrol in the tank. I started most days with an empty tank and tried to drive my body without any fuel in it to do everything I needed to do.

What I understand now is the link between food and our mood plays a huge part in how we manage stress. When you get stressed, your body produces sugar to provide extra energy. When the sugar levels get too high, insulin is produced to deal with this and sugar levels fall. You start to feel tired, hungry; you may get headaches and feel shaky.  All of this affects how you feel and how productive you are. Unfortunately this is usually the time you reach for the chocolate biscuit or bar and up go the sugar levels again.  Your body gets very unstable when this happens all the time and can lead to diabetes. To prevent this happening, eating regular meals at regular time’s keeps sugar levels balanced and your energy up so there is always something in the tank when you need it.

  One of the problems with our modern society and diet is that food is too easy and we go for this kind of food without giving it much thought when we are busy. Usually these convenient foods are full of sugar, additives and not great for the balanced diet we all need. I am not an expert in food, but I do know simple, balanced meals should be as natural as possible and include a variety of whole foods that can be cooked daily or taken out of the freezer for next day’s dinner.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with fish fingers or a take away  every so often, but the evidence is very strong now in terms of what we eat determines how we feel and what we are physically able to do. Having available healthy snacks during the day can help with any hunger pangs when you are on the go.

I am sure you know a lot of this already and maybe you have learned something about why you feel the way you do. Preparation and planning your meals to take you through the week is a great place to start. Making it a priority to have three regular meals every day and have your snack ready to eat if it’s not possible on one of those days.  Your body should be a priority and so should what you put into it so you can get the most out of it. Don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t work out every day, simply start again the next day.

Become a priority in your life “You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first”


 


 




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Why do we think stress is a normal way to feel ALL the time?



I used to think it was normal.   I loved the amount of things I could get done in a day if I just kept going. If I was stressed and busy, I must be very productive. And I was, for a while. But it couldn’t last.  With too many plates spinning, one came crashing down bringing stress & overwhelm to my door.

I know now that stress is a normal function of how our body works. The problem is it has sneaked into our everyday language over the last few years to casually explain how we feel when tasks become difficult to manage.  Is this right? Why do we let ourselves get to this point, where we cannot cope with our lot?

 It is like a sign of weakness admitting you are stressed. Almost like a badge of honour to be working so hard. Looking back I felt I had to do it all myself and thought that I couldn’t ask for more help. I could manage it all. I found out I couldn’t.

Our lives really have become so busy. Both parents working in many situations, long days, childcare issues and then what to do when children are sick, are all a huge part of people’s lives. Add in demands at work, constant changes in technology, 24 hour access to emails so you are always “on”, sitting in busy traffic and the list goes on. The changes in our society over the last 30 years have been significant and not good for our stress levels.

Everyone feels stress differently, but no one is immune to it. The medical world has always known about it, but the damage to our bodies from long term stress has resulted in World Health Organization declaring it to be an epidemic.

On the other side, stress can be a huge motivator when meeting your deadlines, getting important work done or preparing for exams. This stress should be short term only.  In my previous job, during a conversation with a cardiologist I discovered one of the main stress hormones is Cortisol. Cortisol should only be produced for short periods and then switch off after these short stress events. However, when someone is in a regularly stressed state, there is a continuous drip of cortisol into the blood stream, which can have damaging effect on blood vessels and organs such as the heart & lungs. This can lead to heart disease and diabetes which we are all too familiar with these days.

 For me, understanding about the physical effects of stress has made dealing with it much easier. Why we have normalised it in our language though, has been challenging for me. Now when I hear someone say they are stressed, I believe it’s a warning sign that something is going to happen . Why wait to do something about it?

 


 

 



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