Take a look in your fridge or pantry: What do you see? You see how you view yourself and your body, that’s what. If your pantry is full of unhealthy foods and snacks, then chances are you have an unhealthy view of yourself and your body, too. How can we use food to sweeten our lives and positively impact our minds and bodies? We take a look at foods which empower, heal and make a positive impact on our health and our lives.
According to naturopath and holistic health counsellor Janice Polansky, “From the time we are born, we develop a deep association linking food with emotions. From infants whose cries are answered with either their mother’s breast or a bottle, we move through life linking food to emotions.”
There’s no wonder we have such mixed feelings towards food, but ultimately, what we eat can be used to heal the body and soul. “Food provides us with more than the sum of its nutrients — protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals,” Polansky continues. “Food is condensed and transformed energy. Eating is a way to extract life sustaining energy from food.”
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These foods not only enrich us with their nutrients, but also heal the body and give us more energy throughout the day. Clean out that pantry, incorporate them into your diet and begin to feel the benefits of eating these healthy foods.
Full of the mineral magnesium, spinach can help aid the development of serotonin. Deficiencies in this feel-good hormone can otherwise lead to depression, insomnia, fatigue and anxiety. Spinach is also full of fibre, anti-inflammatories neoxanthin and violaxanthin and powerful antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, which help curb high blood pressure. Pop spinach in your green smoothie and get ready to feel the effects.
Don’t forget to put these gems in your smoothie or your fruit salad. Blueberries aren’t just delicious, they’re high in vitamins and are also said to help relieve stress. Blueberries are also 85 per cent water, which means they’re a great snack for those of us trying to lose weight. They’re also high in potent antioxidants which can help with arthritis, memory loss in old age and eyesight problems.
Dates are high in potassium, which makes them great for a healthy nervous system because they keep us alert and our minds sharp. Dates are a great snack during the 3 p.m. work-day slump, too, as they’re high in natural sugars which are a great pick-me-up.
According to Food Matters‘s Dr. Andrew Saul, eating two handfuls of cashews has the same energy-lifting effects as a dose of Prozac. Wow! They’re also high in tryptophan, which aids the production of serotonin in the brain. Hello, feel-good hormones!
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While nuts are generally high in calories and fat, it’s the monounsaturated fat in nuts that makes them healthier than the fat found in meat and dairy. Walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and are great for heart health. Eat these tasty nuts as they are or chop them up and add them to salads.
Another vegie which aids the brain through production of serotonin, broccoli also contains chromium which helps to break down and process food. Also, just 100 grams of broccoli provides more than 150 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Goodbye, common cold!
For those of us who aren’t getting enough sun, salmon is packed with vitamin D, which is a vitamin that can put us in a good mood, or at least help us regulate our moods. While it might be easy to get our 15 minutes of sunlight a few times a week in summer, it’s a little harder as the weather cools. When the sun has stopped shining, make sure to put some salmon on the dinner plate instead.
If you’re the type who heads straight for the chocolate when you’re stressed out, it might be time to make a change and start stocking up on sweet potato. Not only will it keep you fuller for longer, it’ll also calm you down and help you digest slower because of its high-fibre content. It’s sweet, too, so it might just curb your chocolate addiction as well.
How to take the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle
- Education: Read up on foods and what they’re doing to our bodies. The more educated we are about the effects food has on our bodies, the less likely we will be to make bad choices.
- Start afresh: Go through the fridge, the pantry and that secret stash of chocolates and throw everything out that isn’t going to serve you in your healthy lifestyle changes.
- Connect: Get in touch with people in your friendship circles or community groups online who are interested in eating healthy. Staying in touch with like-minded people will motivate you to keep going.
What are your favourite healthy food options? And what advice do you have for others keen to take on a healthier lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below.