Our second week of Self Care in June is dedicated to one of our favorite things – eating! Since quarantine, most of us probably notice that our appetite and eating patterns have changed quite a bit. As a therapist, I often check-in with clients about any appetite changes they’ve experienced as well any unintended weight gain or loss. Not only can it alert us to any health issues, it can also highlight stressors that contribute to our mental health status.
I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to eating, nutrition or weight loss. However I do embrace concepts related to intuitive eating and positive body image at any size. In this week’s email I thought I would provide some resources I use when clients when to dig a little deeper into their emotional eating or relationship with food.Here's an excerpt from a helpful article on webmd about the connection between diet and mental health.
3 Ways Diet Impacts Your Mental Health
1. It's crucial for brain development.
"We are, quite literally, what we eat," says Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute. "When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body."
2. It puts the brain into grow mode.
Certain nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance.
On the other hand, "a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins," Jacka says.
3. It fills the gut with healthy bacteria.
And that's good for the brain. Trillions of good bacteria live in the gut. They fend off bad germs and keep your immune system in check, which means they help tame inflammation in the body. Some gut germs even help make brain-powering B vitamins. Foods with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) help maintain a healthy gut environment, or "biome. A healthier microbiome is going to decrease inflammation which affects mood and cognition," Ramsey says.
Let me introduce you to my colleague and friend Shannon Hayes Buescher, you may have seen her being interviewed on Fox 2 in St. Louis. She’s a brilliant nutritional counselor whom I’ve worked with personally and professionally.
Here’s a blurb all about intuitive eating from her website.
Intuitive Eating is an anti-diet approach to food. It is a way to help you create a healthy, more kind relationship with food, your body and mind. Diet culture has led you to believe that you lack willpower, you’re not trying hard enough and that with pain, suffering and deprivation, you’ll have the results you’ve been striving for. And you maybe you lose the weight, but then you gain it all back. What diet culture does not tell you, is that they are not sustainable. So, you will be grow angry, distraught and frustrated and place all the blame on yourself, all the while, it is the diet that has failed you, not the other way around.
Intuitive Eating helps you to heal from diet culture. Whether it is from a past eating disorder, chronic dieting, or feeling confused on how to feed your body, intuitive eating gives you the tools to reconnect to the only expert of your body-YOU. It helps you recognize hunger, fullness and satiety. It helps you heal from the rules of food by giving yourself permission and attunement to your body. It helps movement to become fun and joyful. It helps you find respect and appreciation for your body, regardless of its size.
My goal is to help you find a balance with food and see how it fuels and nourishes your body. How food can make you feel good and energized versus full of guilt and shame. How reconnecting to your body and learning to listen helps you to rebuild the trust that was taken from you with dieting. My hope is to help you create a kind, loving relationship with food and your body.
I have created the Five Foundations to Healing Your Relationship with Food and Your Body, based on the principles of Intuitive Eating. I believe in the work that I have done with my clients, that these five foundations allow you to see the impact that dieting has made and guides you to reconnect and repair your relationship with food and your body.
Another friend and colleague who always inspires me when it comes to nutrition is Gayle Wilson Rose of Why Powered Whole Health Coaching.She helps people make powerful mindset shifts for adopting healthier lifestyles habits.
She created the innovative and very timely program“Healthy in Place: A home guide to lasting weight loss and wellness”.The digital guidebook can be purchased here
Gayle has compiled an amazing list of resources related to managing stress, positive mindset, strengthening immunity and moving more here
Her blog is amazing, her attitude is positive, her treatment approach gets results and is very action oriented. Do yourself a favor and click around and learn about her individual and group coaching opportunities. Remember, I just want you to consider doing ONE new thing as it relates to your nutrition. Try a new recipe, walk your dog for ten more minutes than usual, mindfully enjoy that brownie after dinner! We don’t need a major overhaul right now. We’re not looking for perfection. We’re going to focus on small, incremental steps towards better self-care. All of our weekly emails can be found on Sage Tree Therapy's blog. Feel free to look back at the last month's worth of messages as well.
See you in session!
Wholeheartedly, Elizabeth Lowder MSW, LCSW