How to eat yourself kind

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Last week we talked about being kind to ourselves and tried a technique using a wrist band to catch ourselves when we are being our own worst inner critic.

This week we are going to focus on kindness and nutrition. Using food to process our emotions and emotional eating will resonate for just about all of us. Incorporating fresh wholefoods regularly into your diet is an excellent way to express kindness to yourself. This act of honouring your body will affect how you feel and therefore what you believe. Supporting yourself will lead to your body perceiving it is safe and loved, promoting growth and repair.

The problem

I know that when I am feeling tired or stressed I crave comfort foods, alcohol or sugar! There is a biochemical reason for this. We are perceiving that we are very stressed and when this goes on for a long period of time the body begins to believe it is in a state of urgency, mirroring protection mode. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress and according to an American Psychological Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.

Time poor

Australian studies also show that stress is related. In an article by Dr Susan Torres, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University she says that being time-poor is a big factor in choosing unhealthy foods when we’re stressed, Dr Torres says. “We have busy jobs and lives, and often not enough time. When this happens, we often seek out fast, convenient options such as takeaway. Research has also shown people tend to eat more when they are stressed, leading to the consumption of foods with higher kilojoules but with not a lot of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.”

However, not all stress is the same, and we can respond differently to different types of stress. “What we eat and when we eat does have a lot to do with the type of stress we’re experiencing,’ Dr Torres says. “Research has shown that chronic daily stress releases cortisol, and in studies this has been linked to increasing our appetite or drive for sweet, fatty foods.”

Stress seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible.

Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are "comfort" foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people's stress-induced craving for those foods.

Stress and eating

Because stress and eating is linked, addressing how you manage your stress will be really key here. One theory for the link to weight gain is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin. How much cortisol people produce in response to stress may also factor into the stress–weight gain equation.

In my practice I know that when I have incorporated mindfulness and meditation, with a great wholefood and movement program to balance the autonomic nervous system, this tends to result in a calmer energy which alters my biochemistry effecting how I feel mentally and physically.

Calming foods to promote

Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Selenium may improve mood by reducing inflammation, which is often at heightened levels when someone has a mood disorder, such as anxiety.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a strong relationship with cognitive function as well as mental health.

If tolerated Egg yolks are another great source of vitamin D. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs for growth and development. Eggs also contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps create serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, sleep, memory, and behaviour. Serotonin is also thought to improve brain function and relieve anxiety.Researchers are increasingly linking vitamin D deficiency to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. 

Eating potassium-rich foods such, as pumpkin seeds or bananas, may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Experts have long suspected that dark chocolate might help reduce stress and anxiety. A 2014 study found that 40g of dark chocolate helped reduce perceived stress in female students. Other studies have generally found that dark chocolate or cocoa may improve mood. 

Sourced from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322652.php

The solution

  • Reduce stress levels with mediation, journalling or seek extra help with a therapy that resonates

  • Get to the bottom of what is triggering you to feel stressed

  • If you crave sugars increasing your good fats like avocado, fish, nuts and seeds can help

  • Focus on having fun while eating, gathering for meals is a social ritual. 80% of the time ensure you go for nutrient dense foods and then 20% of the time indulge (I only recommend this ration if you are in a maintenance program)

  • The Bend Like Bamboo Method promotes Happy Food as a way to nourish your mind and body. Master x 5 salads x 5 sides x 5 sauces x 5 proteins and you will have 625 recipes if you simply mix and match


To read more about this please check out my Reference : Health.Harvard.au.


To give yourself the best environment to be kind you might want to explore further work on yourself.

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