Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
What springs to mind when you think about self care?
Eating a delicious meal? A relaxing yoga session? Enjoying a massage or spa treatment?
Do you even think about self-care at all?
Finding time to look after ourselves can be hard, especially when other people depend upon our time and attention. Yet we all have at least three opportunities for self-kindness and care every day: breakfast, lunch, and evening meal.
Maybe you’ve fallen into the habit of skipping meals or eating hurriedly between meetings and appointments. Perhaps you don’t even care what you eat, so long as you refuel and can make it through the day.
Such unkind eating habits do more than deplete your body of nutrients and are worth exploring to detect any underlying causes.
Tiredness for example is often a reason for missed meals, but this will of course perpetuate the situation and worsen fatigue. Feeling stressed by an over-filled schedule is another possible reason. Depending on who organises your schedule, dealing with this factor may mean having an honest conversation with your boss, or creating space in your own diary to eat each day.
Skipping meals forces your system to produce more stress hormones to support the levels of glucose in your blood that keep your muscles and brain working. A short burst of stress hormones is easily dealt with, but ongoing stimulation can contribute to some nasty health issues including high blood pressure and gaining fat around your middle.
Eating too quickly can trigger all kinds of digestive problems: from indigestion and bloating, to pain, cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.
Learning (or re-learning) to chew food thoroughly can alleviate a lot of digestive discomfort, and even help with maintaining health weight balance.
To start a new simple habit of self-nourishment, kindness and care, try one or more of these 5 steps this week;
Create time to sit and enjoy breakfast. This can be a small meal: a smoothie perhaps, or poached egg on sourdough toast. Whatever it is, be sure to sit down and take ten minutes to chew thoroughly and enjoy your food.
Prepare a large pan of soup and freeze in individual portions so you have ready-made lunches for the week ahead.
Make a mug of your favourite herbal tea, sit somewhere peaceful for twenty minutes and savour the flavour.
Buy a vegetable you’ve never cooked before and find a new recipe for it.
Let the rainbow in by including 6 different colour fruits & vegetables each day. Choose 1 from each of these groups: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white.
Feeling inspired? Do share your thoughts in the comments below, or over in the Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you!
And you might also like to read;
A recent large scale study from Japan has highlighted how the national diet which is rich in oily fish, means there are lower levels of depression amongst the population.
Many previous studies examining the effects of omega-3 oils on depression and mood balance have looked at the average Western diet which is typically low in oily fish. The Japanese traditionally eat much more oily fish, thereby having a higher baseline level of omega-3.
The study looked at 1050 men and 1073 women all aged over 40. Results showed that higher intake levels of the omega-3 fats EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) were inversely associated with symptoms of depression.
Both EPA and DHA play key roles in the structure and function of the brain, supporting communication between brain cells.
The importance of omega-3 fats to brain health can be likened to a mobile phone signal: when levels are low, cell communication is crackly and interrupted, similar to poor mobile phone reception!
Oily fish and krill oil are major sources of both EPA and DHA. Certain types of algae can supply DHA whilst flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts provide ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), the ‘parent’ acid of EPA and DHA.
The difficulty with relying on ALA as a source of omega-3 oils is that a lot of the oils are lost in the different conversion processes ALA must go through to become EPA and DHA.
Many other nutrients are needed to support this conversion: magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, zinc – and if dietary sources of these nutrients is low, or digestion is impaired, there are knock on effects on EPA and DHA levels.
Try these simple steps to support your EPA and DHA levels:
Include oily fish such as sardines, wild salmon, mackerel, pilchards and trout in your diet 3 times a week
If you dislike fish, consider a Krill oil supplement. Krill oil provides EPA and DHA in a highly bioavailable form which is easily used by cells throughout your body
For vegetarians & vegans, include hemp, flax and walnut oils daily. ‘Udo’s Oil Blend’ is a fantastic vegan oil blend of various nuts and seeds, supplying a balanced range of Omegas 3, 6 and 9.
If you have difficulty digesting fats, include bitter foods like rocket, watercress, mustard greens, dandelion leaves and apple cider vinegar before meals to stimulate bile production.
Digestive enzymes may also be useful: lipase is the specific enzyme for fat digestion.
If you’re seeking a natural nutritional way to deal with depression, anxiety or hormonal mood imbalance, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07910 705272 TODAY!
Horikawa C et al (2016) Cross-sectional association between serum concentrations of n-3 long-chain PUFA and depressive symptoms: results in Japanese community dwellers British Journal of Nutrition vol 115:672-80