Food as Medicine

Food is medicine. Treat it as such.

If you missed yesterday’s blog post and video on the links between food and mood check it out here: Food and Mood

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food" - Hippocrates
Let food be your medicine. Whatever is ailing you, do not underestimate the role food plays in your ability to create what you need to heal. Learn about minerals, vitamins, nutrients and eat to heal and support your physical structures and your mental capacities.

Food and Mood

Ever noticed that you feel different after eating different foods? In the past the links between food and mood may have been considered pseudoscience as food is just fuel, right? Not anymore. In today’s world we know the quality of that fuel (food) matters.

Over a decade ago Wallin and Rissanen (1994) were discussing the impacts of food and food cravings on psychiatric diagnoses. Today we are studying how the gut microbiota are impacted by diet choices and influence behavior (Jørgensen, 2014). There is lots of research linking how well children do in the classroom to meals eaten throughout the day, how strong our workouts will be to when and how we eat, and shows us how our focus and concentration fluctuate with what additives and ingredients were packaged in that meal you ate. Today, consider how you are eating for your brain.

For many of us we eat a routine set of items. In these items we often find the same things we ate and were exposed to as children. As a result we are fueling similar to our biology and culture. This used to be a good thing, as more research is showing us how ethnicity impacts ability to digest particular food items. However, with such diversity in our food system, easy access to all sorts of new foods, and things like GMOs, additives, colors, and preservatives many of us do not feel as good as we used to when we eat the same foods from our past. We have moved away from those family, cultural, and ethically focused meal plans and begun to source our food miles and miles from our homes.

As you eat this week, notice how you feel before you eat. What is your emotional state? Are you really hungry? Are you just bored? Do you feel sad, happy, angry? How did you feel yesterday? Many times our food choices are based on energy levels from yesterday. Then notice the same about how you feel when you get done eating. Did that meal satisfy you? If not why not? What is the emotion set you are feeling as you finish eating?

Next notice your thoughts. As a personal trainer and former fitness center owner, people around me often say things like: “I know I shouldn’t eat this … but” as they take a huge bite of something. This is not the way to help your mind create an experience of health or your body feel good about what you are eating. If you want that piece of cake, eat it, but be careful how you think about it. If you are saying “I shouldn’t” then have a smaller piece and say “I am so grateful I have the opportunity to sample this sweetness, I am also grateful that I only need a little to feel satisfied”. Then eat the item mindfully and enjoy it fully. As you swallow tell your belly, “We are enjoying the sweetness of life in this moment”. Do the same when you eat salad and fruit and vegetables, and drink water. As you eat, tell yourself how great these items are for your cells, your gut flora, and your brain.

The connection between what we think and what we manifest is well known. You will cultivate what you what you put your attention on. Use the power of your attention to focus on what you want, not what you don’t. As you tell yourself you are making healthy choices and you are caring for your body well, you begin to manifest increased healthy behaviors. Don’t believe me? Begin to think about something you like, focus on it, Just do not think about pink elephants. How many of you saw a pink elephant in your mind?

The subconscious works in pictures. When you give it a subject, like pink elephants, “bad” food, things you hate, it puts resources toward creating the experience of noticing pink elephants (or other items). If it is this easy to see pink elephants in your mind, imagine how easy it will be to see your body working exactly as it should, humming along, doing just what is needed in each moment to fully function. Think about how easy it will be to take a food, tell yourself the food is helping your body, and create a healthy pattern of engagement between food that is good for you, feeding yourself well, and generating positive moods as a result.

As you increase the healthy foods, your mood improves, your sleep gets better, and it’s easier to manage stress in your life. Your body has the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to make the neurotransmitters you need to feel happy, content, and connected. All of which help you feel regulated and grounded. Want more ideas to help yourself stay on track? Check out an easier post: Eat Well, Feel Well

As you feed yourself today, say something positive and thankful over your food. You will be surprised how that shifts your focus and brings a different experience to your eating … Here’s to happy eating, enjoy!

References

Jørgensen, B.P., Hansen, J. T., Krych, L., Larsen, C., Klein, A.B., Nielsen, D. S., Josefsen, K., Hansen, A. K., Sørensen, D. B. (2014). A possible link between food and mood: Dietary impact on gut microbiota and behavior in BALB/c mice. PLOS ONE, 9(8), e103398 1-15.

Wallin M.S., Rissanen A.M. (1994). Food and mood: relationship between food, serotonin and affective disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 377, 36-40.

Food is Just Fuel

Do you have trouble deciding how to feel about food? Do you wonder if you should be adding or eliminating a food group based on the most recent diet craze? Help your relationship with food by reframing how you think about it. Food is just fuel…

Let’s talk about fat. Its not an evil three letter word as some may think, its really just about fuel. I like this analogy:
You live next to a gas station, right next door. Every day you back out of your garage and drive your car the long way to the station (around the block), fill up the tank, drive the long way home and put the car back in the garage. What happens? You haven’t driven far enough to refuel each day and your gas tank would overflow, right?

What’s so different about that and the way you may be eating? Food is fuel. Overeating and under working cause your body to overflow. Unlike a car, your body places excess fuel in storage as fat. Now the really cool part: Carbs have been on the bad list for awhile, but finally starting to get out of the doghouse, yea, Carbs are your bodies first choice for energy because they are easily accessible and they burn fast. Protein is next, but it takes longer to convert, and finally fat comes on board. Wanna know why? Because your body is smart. Very smart. Instead of storing everything as the macro nutrient it originally was, it stores it as fat because fat gives us more bang for our buck. When we convert these fuel sources we are turning calories into energy and fat gives us more than twice the amount protein and carbs do per gram.

So when you consume more calories than you burn your body says, “hmmm, I don’t need these now, but maybe I will soon, so I’ll save them.” Just like a little kid with candy, your body puts the extra in its pocket., however unlike the child, your body doesn’t use it until it is needed. Absolutely amazing!