It’s the end of a long week. It’s been quite stressful. Not only are you physically drained as you close in on the day but you’re mentally drained. You’ve hardly got anything left in you to make another decision but wait..you find a tiny bit of motivation to focus your mind on what to eat for dinner as you so desperately crave to eat away the stress of the day. You’re craving comfort. You’re craving something oh so good yet oh so bad. You want the salt, the carbs, the grease, the sweets, everything you know you should steer away from but you want it. At this point, any and everything sounds good. You cave in and indulge for the evening, only to be left feeling more drained and sluggish than when you sat down to take that mouthwatering first bite. Your gut thanks you sarcastically later that night as you find yourself in discomfort and your pounding head suddenly reminds you the following morning as you wake with somewhat of a brain fog that you overdid it with the salt and sugar. This becomes a habit. You find yourself with more and more cravings for processed foods day in and day out. You’re feeling even more stressed. Now you’re anxious, irritable, not thinking clearly, tired of feeling tired, with little motivation, riding the waves of emotional instability.
Or perhaps you’re not stressed. You just genuinely love food. You find yourself at times bored or maybe even isolated. You eat..you snack, you nibble, you binge..whatever your habit is. Pair this with inactivity, and the stress of trying to navigate through life during a pandemic and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. Not just physically, but mentally.
Research shows that there is a strong correlation between dietary patterns high in processed foods with increased risk of anxiety, depression, dementia, ADHD, and other mood disorders. Several vitamin deficiencies have been linked specifically to symptoms of low mood, fatigue, low libido, cognitive decline, and irritability. This only makes sense. If the brain is a vital organ with high nutritional and metabolic demands, why wouldn’t it require to be fueled by rich nutrient dense food sources? We can compare our brains to a high functioning car. If you repeatedly fueled it with the wrong gas despite manufacturer recommendations, it most certainly will not perform optimally..if it even performs at all. Studies have also shown that there are specific foods that can boost mood. Serotonin also known as the happy chemical made naturally in the brain is influenced by many things. One of which is tryptophan, a non-essential amino acid that is found in many protein-rich foods. Recent literature suggests that Omega-3 Fatty Acids which can be easily consumed through fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds can help protect against depression as well as aid in combating menopausal symptoms. The list goes on and on. We don’t give food enough credit as to how it impacts our health. That or we just don’t take it as serious.
Granted, one can attest that it’s easier to eat badly, I mean who wouldn’t agree? It’s typically more cost effective and it’s convenient. It certainly tastes great as it’s packed with boatloads of sodium and sugar only to aid in the vicious cycle of endless cravings. Depending on your location, you’re surrounded by fast food joints on every street corner. Ever heard of the infamous “Dollar menu”? Need I say more? Unfortunately, we live in an “instant society” and eating healthier nutrient dense meals require a bit more effort, time, and patience. Perhaps even a change of thought process for many…and a change of taste buds.
Here at The Women's Center, PC your health and well-being is a priority. Now that you have more insight of how food affects you, we challenge you to shift your focus to this important topic and treat food as medicine, nourishing and healing your body and your mind. Whether this looks like cleaning up your diet by means of eliminating as many processed foods as possible or incorporating more nutrient dense foods to the foods you already eat, the end goal is for you to reap the full benefits of optimal mental, physical, and emotional health in partnership with our trusted medical care.