fbpx
thinkeat.png

How sharp is your mind, how balanced is your mood, how consistent is your energy, how happy are you – and what, if anything, do these qualities have to do with what you eat?

There are some sobering stats which involved 37,000 people. Here are the proportion of people that reported suffering ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ from certain conditions:

    • Become impatient quickly 82%
    • Have low energy level 80%
    • Energy is less than it used to be 76%
    • Feel have too much to do 67%
    • Become anxious or tense easily 64%
    • Have PMS/PMT (women only) 63%
    • Easily become angry 53%
    • Suffer from depression 44%
    • Have difficulty concentrating 43%
    • Become nervous/hyperactive 38%
    • Have poor memory/difficulty learning 32%

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like you?  Welcome to the 21st century.  Despite improvements in diet and better standards of living, the average person is exhausted, among other things.  So, what’s going wrong?

Our minds and bodies have been shaped over millions of years of evolution. Diets have changed radically in the last 100 years, along with our environment.  When you consider that the body and brain are made entirely from molecules derived from food, air, and water, and that simple molecules like alcohol can fundamentally affect the brain, isn’t it unlikely that changes in the diet and the environment have had no effect on our mental health?

I believe that most of us are not achieving our full potential for mental health, happiness, alertness and clarity because we are not achieving optimum nutrition for the mind.  I also believe that significant proportion of mentally unwell people are suffering from a chemical imbalance brought on by years of poor nutrition and exposure to environmental pollutants.

As Einstein said, ‘the problems we have created cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.’  We need a new way of thinking about mental health that includes the role of nutrition and the chemical environment and how these affect the way we think and feel.

Mind and body are not separate

One of the most limiting concepts in the human sciences is the idea that the mind and the body are separate.  Try asking an anatomist, a psychologist and a biochemist where the mind begins and the body ends.  It is a stupid question, and yet that is exactly what modern science has done by separating psychology from anatomy and physiology.

But it’s not just the scientists who live by this false distinction.  It’s us.  When you’re having difficulty concentrating, when your mood is low, when you struggle to find a memory, do you consider that you may be poorly nourished? Why not?  Every one of these states – your thinking, feeling, mental energy and focus – happens across a network of interconnecting brain cells, each one of which depends on an optimal supply of nutrients to work efficiently.

Optimum Nutrition and psychotherapy work wonders

Of course, as I’ve mentioned, improving our mental health isn’t only about nutrition.  While some therapists may ignore the role of nutrition and the brain’s chemistry in how we think and feel, let’s not make the same mistake. I believe the solution to the mental health problems that plague our society lies in a combination of optimum nutrition and good psychological support, which includes having a place you can call home, being treated with respect and dignity, and counselling.  

Certain kinds of counselling are highly effective for depression, for example, but far too infrequently prescribed or available.  The combination of optimum nutrition and psychotherapy works wonders for a wide variety of mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia – and may work better than drugs.  Most of the psychiatrists that I have spoken to find that while drugs can be life-saving in the short term, they become unnecessary when people are receiving the right combination of nutrients and psychological support.

We need a radical new approach based on science

With mental health problems rising at such a pace, we need a new way of thinking about the state of our minds.  As Marcel Proust said, ‘the real act of discovery consists, not finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.’  We need to wake up to the realisation that poor nutrition and chemical imbalances probably underlie the majority of mental health problems.    While psychotherapy can make a positive change, you must also address deficiencies in essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other key brain nutrients.  We must think our way out of the box and get to grips with the fact that chemistry directly affects how we think and feel.

This means a new basis for both diagnosing and treating problems, and a new way of living and eating that supports our mental health, rather than eroding it.  I believe we already have solutions to most forms of mental illness.  We just have to look with new eyes.  

Summary:

We can now say with confidence that:

  • Most people are achieving well below their full potential for intelligence, memory, concentration, emotional balance and happiness.
  • The right combination of nutrients may work better than drugs, and without the side-effects.
  • Psychotherapy (and other forms of therapy) works best if you’re optimally nourished.
  • Most mental health problems can be relieved with the right nutrition together with the right psychological support and guidance.

Niki Vlachou-Puzzo is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Wildflower Health and Wellness – Learn more about her on her website and follow Niki on Instagram


whwcalm.png

What your naturopath is doing right now.

 

I’m not sure about you, but for me the days blend together and it all actually feels like 1 long day. The world feels dangerous and the threat is invisible. 

We’ve all had our lives affected by COVID-19 and the fallout is going to continue for some time. Uncertain times, such as now, can always trigger the difficult feelings of worry, nervousness and panic. It can feel as if you are spiraling out and the result is feeling a lack of control; that in turn, sets off the emotional and mental alarm bells causing what we call anxiety.


whw-meal-plan-busy1.png

You want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy. 

You eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

You want better health. You want to eat better. You don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.

 

I get it!

So, as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I am here to help you. I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week.

Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you.As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.

Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.

 

PLAN MEALS FOR THE WEEK

I prefer to do this on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I’ll bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge. I like to have at least one crock pot meal each week because they’re so easy, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home. 

Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy.

Pro Tip: If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating.

Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready. 

Pro Tip: If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double the amount you buy from the grocery store.

Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, hop on over to the store and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too.

Pro Tip: If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.

 

PREPARE MEALS FOR THE WEEK

Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.

I like to book off 2-3 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music (if you’re so inclined). This is a great way to get your water intake in, have a glass of water, perhaps in a “fancy” glass and sip away (or your beverage of choice).

At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.

 

AWESOME MEAL PREP TIP

There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy. 

That’s breakfast. 

Planning some overnight oatmeal is a great start to any day. Simply place ½ cup rolled gluten free oats, ½ cup your choice of nut milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make 5 for the whole week). Then place the lid on, shake them up and put them in your fridge. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats will have absorbed the nut milk). Top with berries, chopped fruit, cinnamon, nuts or seeds and enjoy.

With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and calories. 

This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know!


20181211_113408_0001.png

Merry Stress Management

We’ve all been there. You’re standing in line at a crowded shopping mall, there aren’t enough cashiers, and the line is moving unbelievably slow. It took more than 15 minutes to find a parking spot and now you’re running late but it’s okay because the sound system is blaring Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you,” right?

For many, the winter holidays mark a festive but also difficult time. It seems like everything demands our attention. Work deadlines to end off the year, pressure to buy well-received gifts, financial stress, unwanted conversations with family and not to mention the regular regimen of eating healthy and exercising. It’s a unique time because after the holiday season, this stress will go away. It’s the same stress that is also a predictable stress that we have the power to manage. In a survey conducted by Healthline in 2015, 62% of people surveyed reported elevated stress levels during the holidays, while 10% reported no stress whatsoever. Great for that 10%, but what can the majority do to thrive this holiday season?

…62% of people surveyed reported elevated stress levels during the holidays…

1. Making a list, checking it twice

Whether you are naughty or nice, make a list of what needs to be done. By writing it down you effectively declutter your mind and ensures that you don’t forget key tasks. Having your to-do list swirl around in your head will inevitably ensure that random tasks will pop up at the wrong time when you are already doing a million things or when you’re trying to catch some z’s. While pen and paper works the best, you can also use a notes app on your smartphone.

it’s perfectly okay to not be in the Christmas spirit.

2. Channel kind Grinch vibes

The Grinch vibe is to say no. Despite what you are told, it’s perfectly okay to not be in the Christmas spirit. In plain terms, you can say no to obligations/responsibilities. Yes, it is possible to say no from a kind place, unlike the Grinch. Adding obligations to your plate might seems like a good idea to channel the holiday/Christmas spirit, however the spirit should not be draining you or stop you from doing the things that you truly enjoy. This time more than any other time you should protect your valuable time and energy.

Ways to say no:

  • “Thank you for thinking of me. I have this project that I am working on right now.”
  • “I am fully committed to doing this task before I can take on anything else.”
  • “Thank you for inviting me, unfortunately I can’t make it out to the Christmas party this year.”

3. Family time

If it’s uncomfortable to be around family because you may be avoiding some members and/or conversations, then keep in mind that the holidays are a time for families to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Stick to activities that you can jointly enjoy and/or areas of conversation that are of interest to both parties. Be mindful of your words and avoid combative language. Keep in mind that you can have a conversation someone without having the same perspective. Accept that you may not change the other person’s mind which will ease the tension in conversation. When all else fails, you can end a conversation before you see it turning hostile and change the topic to something you do agree upon.

For some people the holidays mark a sad time when there may be missing family members who have passed away. During this time, gift yourself some TLC without isolating yourself. While you don’t have to force yourself to be happy, you can take a walk, get some air, acknowledge your grief and talk to a trusted friend or family member.

4. Deck the halls with self care

Because the holiday season requires us to take on more responsibility than usual, our brain goes into overdrive. It may be acceptable for us to let go of personal health habits to complete other activities (ex: skipping exercise because of late working hours). Your daily routine is how you take care of your mind and body. It may include things such as physical activity, a cup of tea, journaling, getting to bed at a decent hour. Does it make sense to let go of your routine during the most stressful time of year? During the holidays you can keep your mental and physical stability by continuing your self care routine. Things may shift around a bit and you may skip some days but don’t toss your routine out of the window completely.

5. Presents under the tree

Are you also a well-deserving? YES! Be kind to yourself and give yourself a gift every day!

Self care gift ideas:
  • Take some time off of work to do something you enjoy
  • Sleep in for one day
  • Learn something new (ex: new recipe, new way to wrap presents, etc.)
  • Reminisce about good memories from the past year
  • Reflect on the passing year and make some goals for next year
  • Laugh! Watch a comedy show
  • Take advantage of your health benefits before the year ends

Stress around the holidays can come out in different ways. For some it can be difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, feeling angry, irritable or out of control, experiencing headaches, poor energy, or body aches and pains. Pay attention to your stress signals and take care of yourself.

Happy Holidays!





Copyright © 2018-2020 Wildflower Health and Wellness - All Rights Reserved.