How to achieve a balance in what we eat

You don’t even need to change your diet overnight.

You are what you eat.  An expression with nothing but the truth. We all know that a diet which is too high in processed food and excessive sugars may bring the risk of not only obesity, but many health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, but how many of us take this matter seriously? 

It doesn’t take a doctor to understand that junk food and candy provide little, if any, nutritional value.  In fact, we can understand this through our own experience – while eating this kind of food can relieve your hunger, it won’t leave you feeling great.  A lot of people may suffer from bloating, fatigue, headaches or other kinds of aches and pains because of their bad diet.

The food we should be interested in is a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains which are filled with nutritious goodness such as minerals, fibre, vitamins, essential omega fats and protein.  All these rich nutrient foods provide the body with the energy it requires to carry out day-to-day bodily functions while keeping your heart beating strongly.  A healthy diet can definitely help to ward off disease, but we often forget the immediate benefits that come along with it, such as increased energy, better mood, better sleep and much better digestion!

So how is food connected to our mood?

Billions of bacteria live in what is known as our second brain – our gut! The food we consume directly affects our gut health and in turn, this influences the production of neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers which are continuously carrying messages from the gut to the brain.  

A large number of serotonin receptors are located in the gut.  These serotonin receptors are our mood regulators that influence our biological and neurological processes such as anxiety, aggression, mood and sleep.  For example, if you eat something sweet, it produces dopamine which is a feel-good hormone and serotonin which is often referred to as the happiness hormone.  The neurotransmitters carry those chemicals to the brain, and we feel happy!  Different foods can trigger physiological changes associated with emotions.  For example, consuming protein can improve motivation and concentration.

So what exactly should we be eating for an overall improved wellbeing?

Reduce the following as all these foods promote inflammation within the body:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar

Add more of the following:

  • Dark leafy greens: Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Asparagus
    • Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries
    • Allium vegetables: Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Spring Onions
    • Seeds: Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Chai Seeds, Pumpkin seeds
    • Nuts: Walnuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts
    • Fruit: Apples, Bananas, Avocados, Tomatoes
    • Other: Mushrooms, Beans, Salmon, Eggs, Dark chocolate, Turmeric, Ginger

One thing’s for sure.  Don’t try to completely change your diet overnight.  People tend to find it easier to start adding healthier options to their existing diet, until eventually, they have a more balanced diet.  Like everything in life, having a balance is key for overall wellbeing.

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