I am a big proponent of holistic wellness, basically meaning I believe it is important to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. I believe in this idea because it is relatively impossible to take care of just one of these things at a time.
Nearly anything you do to take care of one of these aspects is going to also influence another. For example, if you are going to therapy to better your mind, there is a good chance you will leave also more in tune with your spirit. Or if you start eating better to take care of your body, there is a good chance it will also boost your mood. Now this is the interconnection I want to focus on.
Feeding your body also feeds your mind. I am no nutritionist by the way, but I highly recommend seeing one [remember I am not a medical professional so this information is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical advice]. Different foods impact your body & mind in different ways. General rule of thumb is though, if it is good for your body, it is also good for your mind. As a reminder, chips, candy, and soda are not good for your body…so they are also not good for your mind.
Food is a part of all our daily lives whether we are vegan or the T-Rex version of a human being. So we should stay aware of the fuel we are putting into our bodies because not all fuel is equal. Many foods have affects on our brain that we don’t recognize or connect. The neurotransmitter, Serotonin (aka the thing in our brain that controls our level of happiness and well-being) is affected by certain foods. Particularly, it is fueled by traditionally healthy foods. Think fruits, veggies, and natural, unprocessed foods. The more of these traditional healthy foods we consume, the easier it is for us to feel well and happy.
On the other hand, when we eat highly processed (what I call “fake”) food, it does not fuel our brain and body in the same way that unprocessed, natural foods do. Think of it this way…your body is a fine tuned machine, like a BMW. You don’t just fuel up a beamer with regular, old, unleaded gas. You put the highest quality premium gasoline in that baby to keep it running in tip, top shape. That is the mindset you should use to fuel your body! Only the best and healthiest foods should be consumed.
Now just like food can influence your mood. Your mood can influence the food you choose to eat. Studies have shown that when people feel sad, depressed, anxious, nervous, or other negative emotions, we often eat more sugary, processed foods. With this back and forth relationship between food and your mood, it can cause you to get in an unhealthy cycle of feeding your body things that will keep you in a negative mood. When you are feeling down or low energy it is important to recognize this, so you can fuel yourself in a way that will jump-start your energy. Identifying the healthy snacks that you actually enjoy and keeping those on hand can mean the difference between a jump-start and break down.
Ultimately, your mind is a unique component of your body, which means anything that is good for your body is most likely going to benefit your mind. Talk to your doctor about how your diet may be impacting your mood, and consult your therapist if you feel your diet may be impacting your mental health. Collaboration between professionals is an important part of holistic health, and you are the one holding these all together!