Most people watch what they eat because they are intent on changing their bodies. No one questions what a poor diet does to the body; however, it doesn't just stop there. I like to conceptualize food as fuel for your body and brain. Food directly impacts the chemistry of your brain! A diet high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, and low in nutrients can contribute to depression, irritability, negative moods, anxiety, low energy levels, and anger. Most people don't know how good they should really feel. I believe that happiness is our natural state. We are here to enjoy out lives, not suffer through it. You are not a prisoner of your body, and there are natural approaches to balancing the body and brain. Food is not the whole solution (hence my whole body and mind approach to wellbeing); however, it is a large piece of the puzzle. On a side note, I do believe that medications serve their purpose, but there are many people who don't want to take them, and probably don't need to. There are other less invasive approaches that work with the body. The body knows how to heal itself. When given proper supports, the body will do the repairing.
Nutrients found in our foods provide the essential biological building blocks for our brains called neurotransmitters (think, brain food). Neurotransmitters are chemicals that cause our cells to fire, and are necessary for everything we do, think, and feel. Our neurotransmitters are linked to our diets, and therefore, you can promote the production of essential neurotransmitters through food. In addition, chemicals in the food we eat and the environment we live in impacts the brain and contributes to imbalances. Deficiencies in neurotransmitters can be the result of genetics, poor nutrition, and/or chronic stress.
What to take from all of this? Eat nutritionally dense foods, and remove as many unnatural ingredients and chemicals as possible from your diet.
Did you know that psychopharmacological drugs that target depression, anxiety, and ADHD work by increasing or decreasing our neurotransmitters?
- Dopamine and norepinephrine are natural energizers and can help you focus. A deficiency can be associated with a depressed mood.
- Serotonin stabilizes our moods and helps with sleep. Deficiencies in serotonin may lead to irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression.
- GABA is a natural sedative. A deficiency in GABA is linked to anxiety.
- Endorphins are natural pain killers and lead to feelings of wellbeing and a healthy mood.
There are diets that target specific deficits; however, I personally believe in a whole food approach. This approach does not consist of counting calories, obsessing over meeting specific requirements, or trendy diets. It means eating a variety of real foods-- the ones found in nature!
My nutrition philosophy:
- Eat real food with an emphasis on leafy greens, veggies, and fruits.
- No fad or trendy diets;
- Ditch the scale and stop counting calories;
- No deprivation;
- No quick fixes like detoxes or cleanses (cleanses have their place, but are not meant to ever be a substitute for a healthy everyday diet. This is a lifelong journey.)
- Shift your focus to what you CAN eat, and not what you can't eat;
- Eat nutritionally dense food that is easy for your body to digest;
- Avoid processed foods that are not truly meant for consumption;
- Longterm changes in diet and lifestyle;
Want to learn more? I recommend reading "The Food-Mood Solution," by Jack Challen. I also recommend anything that Natalia Rose, a clinical nutritionist, has written. I own all of her books and frequently go back to them, but "Raw Food Life Force Energy" is my favorite. She focuses a great deal on restoring life force energy within the body and brain so you can feel your best. And because it needs to be said, please consult with your medical doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist (whoever is on your team!) before making any dramatic nutritional/lifestyle changes. If you are currently taking medication you need to always use extra caution. In addition, if you'd like to decrease or stop taking medication work with your medical doctor! They are there to help you.