When trying to deal with stress from your past or just a rough day, what you eat will determine just how effective you are at dealing with it. Too much sugar will make you crash, too much salt will increase your blood pressure. The key to handling stress and giving your brain all of the fuel it needs to get you through is a balanced diet of foods that are the least processed as possible.
We are full of food, yet empty on energy.
As a civilization, we have never had more food choices available to us whenever and wherever we want it. For most of us, access to food is never an issue. We are eating more than ever before and yet, we’re starved. Our bodies are screaming at us to eat food, yet we feed it chemicals and other fillers that it just doesn’t know what to do with it all. Our bodies grow tired of trying to sort all of these things out, no wonder we are left feeling worn out and unmotivated.
We know better, yet we continue to do it.
Most of us know how to eat properly, but for many different reasons, we just refuse to. Here are a few reminders that will hopefully move you to make a change to your diet and allow you to reclaim your energy.
Get away from the processed foods.
We know foods that have come out of a machine are not healthy for us, yet we are addicted to it. We have convinced ourselves that processed foods are faster, easier and more convenient. The truth with these “foods” is that while we may save time today, we will pay for it later when our bodies finally break down from years of being fed substances that it never was meant to have. Stick to a diet laden with foods that do not need an ingredient list, and when you do need it, stick to food that has a concise list and learn what each item on the list is. Would you chow down on a bowl full of sodium benzoate? No, but it is a preservative found in your bread and is considered “safe in small doses.” Just because it is edible, doesn’t make it food!
Eat with a purpose.
When you choose what you want to eat, be sure that it is serving a purpose within your body. Refrain from eating just anything because you feel hungry. You wouldn’t put water into the empty gas tank of your car just because the fuel light comes on. Eat foods with the most amount of nutrition with the least amount of calories. One of the most significant issues with western diets is that we eat out of boredom, or the perceived state of boredom. When we continuously feed our bodies low nutrient food, our brain (the biggest consumer of your nutrients) tricks us into eating more until it gets the nutrients that it needs. The problem is, we are eating more food than is necessary for our bodies to handle. The excess calories are turned into fat. The next time you grab a snack, ensure what you are about to consume might fill a nutrient need within your body. It will thank you for that with focus and energy to tackle the task at hand.
Know your sugar.
We all know too much sugar is bad for us, but why? Excess glucose from sugar turns into body fat, it is our bodies way of storing excess energy for later, kind of like a battery. The problem with excess sugar consumption over time is that our cells become immune to insulin. Insulin is the hormone released into our bloodstream that turns glucose (the good part of sugar) into energy for our muscles and brain to use. When our cells become immune to insulin (diabetes), glucose gets poured right into our bloodstream which leads to all kinds of bad things to happen to our bodies. Sugar is fine when consumed within a balanced diet.
Look out for protein.
Protein is essential for the repair and creation of tissues within our body. We should all love protein, but there is such a thing as having too much of it. Our bodies cannot store excess protein to use later on. While it does it’s best to process it all, our bodies will turn excess protein into fat, and this process damages our kidneys and liver. Best practice is to eat protein in every meal and not stock up on it in one sitting. Most of us need about 25-30 g of protein in each meal which translates into just about 2/3 of a can of tuna or 4 eggs. So spread your protein out throughout the day and allow your body a chance to metabolize it into muscle instead of fat.
Befriend the fats.
There is a lot of stigmas attached to fat in our diets. We tie the fats that we eat to the fat around our waistline. A fat-free diet is one that is not complete. We need healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 for proper brain function. Most healthy fats also help in the absorption of vitamins like A, D, E and K. We get healthy fats in avocados, fatty fish (salmon, trout, etc.), nuts and eggs. Fats are our best friend when it comes to overall well-being and should not be avoided.
Cutting carbs, fat or sugar from your diet only starves your body and brain of the nutrients it needs to function. Avoid going on trendy diets and instead, choose a diet that fits you and your energy requirements. Understand the food you are eating by reading the labels and questioning just what it is you are putting in your mouth. We have a vast amount of quick information to us at a moments notice, when you need to know what a particular food gives you, or the word that is stumping you on an ingredient list, look it up. Eat with a purpose, your brain, your body and your overall well being will thank you. Give eating more meaning.