Eat Better, Feel Better
When it comes to eating healthy, our reasoning for it often stems from wanting to look better. But what’s often set aside is that choosing healthier food options also has a similar effect on your emotions and mental health! The food you eat is directly related to how you feel!
- For one, eating natural, fresh foods and drinking enough water improves your natural energy levels. Granted, this is only true if you’re already getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. But for those who do get enough sleep and find that they’re still lethargic and often supplementing with perhaps a tad too much coffee throughout the day, simply improving the types of food you eat and getting your 2 litres of simple water a day will help improve your natural energy levels and keep them more consistent.
- Low intake or an imbalance of nutrients, minerals, fatty acids and omega-3s can contribute to altered moods and mimic various mental health issues. Your body, in its perfect state, has its own preferred ratio of nutrients and minerals to make it function optimally. When you eat poorly, it throws this perfect balance off, impacting not only your physical health, but your emotions as well. For example, if you’re not getting enough Vitamin D, you may experience mood swings, fatigue, or even depression more than usual. And although you can use supplements to add more nutrients or minerals into your diet, choosing the right food sources is still the best way to go. Taking too many supplements can be taxing on the body, and many are not as bio-available as real, wholesome, fresh food.
- When you consciously select healthier food options for a longer period of time, you become more aware of what foods make you feel amazing, and what foods make you feel terrible. And I've noticed this is especially true if you go on a stricter healthy eating cleanse for about a month. There's a natural tuning-in that starts to happen, where your mind connects more with your body. For example, many people suffer from food intolerances and never realize it because they've become so accustomed to some of the symptoms (lethargy, physical aches and pains, mental fog, insomnia, acne, itchy skin, etc.) that they just ignore or 'deal with it' and chalk it up to old age or bad luck. I was definitely in this boat before, and it took me years (and seeing a Naturopath) to finally accept that both dairy and gluten negatively impacted my health (this mind-body connection definitely takes time to develop). But after I tried cutting them both out (and I had to do it multiple times, just to be sure), I noticed my symptoms disappearing. So if you try eating healthier, after a while you'll notice that this new understanding of your body and how to listen to it becomes easier and easier, allowing your body to function more and more optimally.
However, there is one small caveat to all of this. And anyone who’s done a cleanse will attest to this: If you are coming from a place of very unhealthy eating habits and then do a complete 180, you will experience some sort of withdrawal for at least a week. Think of it this way - if your body is overloaded with toxins, and then you detox, those toxins need to exit your body somehow. Sometimes it’ll come as pounding headaches two days in… other times it could come as a few pimples a week later! But after you’ve gone past the hump, the longer you stick to choosing healthy eating patterns, the more consistent your “good, balanced feelings” will be.
So if you're the type of person who often yo-yo's back and forth between "diets", then I'd definitely recommend trying to focus on how you feel while eating healthy rather than be motivated by how you want to look. I've personally found that this can be a much better incentive to continuing the path of a healthy lifestyle. You start realizing and appreciating that your body is unique as you work your way through discovering its boundaries. And living in accordance to your body's boundaries doesn't mean you are weak in certain areas. It means you understand and respect it, and are allowing it to become the strongest version of itself. Completely untethered to anyone else's definition of beauty :)