I’ve been doing a lot of research on functional nutrition and the connection between food and mental health. Not just what we eat, but how we eat. Nutrition is a vital component of our holistic health, but it’s sometimes used as an outlet to project trauma and unhealthy behaviors.
What We Eat: There are many studies that show a direct correlation between the Standard American Diet (SAD) and psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
For me, I’ve been pretty religious about having a fruit & veggie smoothie every morning, but have been getting bored with the lack of variety, and I know my body has, too.
If you follow along on my Instagram account you know that I launched a 30-day New Food Challenge this week. I’ll be eating 30 new fruits or vegetables over the next 30 days, and 9 cups of fruits & vegetables each day. To cover the most important nutrient needs, the 9 cups are made up of: 3 cups colorful, 3 cups leafy greens, and 3 cups sulfur-rich (this is adapted from the Wahls Protocol).
It sounds like a lot, but with planning it’s possible. And, they don’t call it a “challenge” for nothing! Each day I’m sharing 1 recipe and meal prep for how I’m reaching the 9 cup/day challenge. By the end of the month, I will have shared 30 new fruits & vegetables that I don’t normally eat.
How We Eat: If you are looking to improve your diet (and I mean really improve, not just 10-day-detox improve) we need to look at how we eat, and our relationship with food.
Mental Health Tip:
You are what you eat
Who you are is how you eat, and how you eat is who you are.
The way we approach food and nutrition is inextricably tied to our beliefs and values. Sometimes the way we want to improve our diet is healthy, but sometimes it’s actually reflective of the core underlying problem.
For example, if a patient comes to me and wants to know the “perfect” diet for mood, and feels guilty if she doesn’t restrict major food groups she’s heard are “bad,” and then thinking about food starts to consume most of her waking day… I start to wonder if her “healthy eating” strategy is really just a manifestation of her anxiety that she was trying to improve in the first place.
Food and nutrition, like everything else, is about balance. It’s about allowing our bodies to restore our natural homeostasis.
Whether we explicitly remember or not, the relationship we have today with food was shaped many years ago, by the way we were taught to think about food by our family and other role models.
This week, I want you to journal the first 5 food memories you have from childhood.
For example, were you ever pestered with the “eat all your food, there are starving children in the world” or maybe you received the regular side-eye from someone at the table when you helped yourself to an extra serving of dessert?
For me, my mom would always make just the right amount of food for our family of four every night. Every evening the main course was placed in the center of the table for us to portion ourselves and eat. I am naturally a slow eater, and so to be safe and ensure I had enough food, I always over-stocked my plate (once it was on my plate, it was safe from my brother and dad!).
Even now, I’m always plating up WAY too much food when I’m at a dinner party, leading to waste (which does NOT go unnoticed by family members, who themselves were given the “your grandparents escaped the Holocaust so you could eat this food” type of message). It all tracks back.
I really enjoyed reading this article that breaks down mindless eating behavior from mindful eating. The mindless behavior that resonated with me most was eating and multi-tasking, with the mindful version of when eating, just eat. The article also breaks down 6 ways to start practicing mindful eating (you know I love a list!).