I am a big believer in fostering love and healing from the inside out. I eat consciously because I know that when I eat processed foods laden with preservatives, sugar, and refined carbs, I feel moody and sluggish. I choose to eat fresh foods that energize and connect me to the earth. I also do something strange called "eating for my brain".
Sounds creepy, but basically "eating for my brain" means that I eat with the knowledge and intention of easing/boosting my moods with food. We have all been through rough times. We have all experienced pain, anger, anxiety, and depression to some degree. I am no stranger to any of these emotions. I am also no stranger to eating disorders. I have struggled with emotional eating most of my life, but two years ago, I decided enough was enough and I was going to learn all about my brain in relationship to food and finally figure a way out of my own self-destructive patterns. I made a list of key foods to keep in mind and posted them on the inside of my cupboard. I kept the list there thinking I may need to reference it often to "stay on track" (as I've done with diets in the past), but "eating for my brain" quickly became a preferred lifestyle. I didn't realize how much better I could feel, mentally and physically, purely from changing the way I eat.
Now, I rarely eat processed foods, not because I'm scared of those kinds of foods, but because I know the negative effect they have on my body and brain. I would much rather eat something delicious that makes me feel good than eat something delicious that makes me feel sick. When I am feeling healthy and happy, I spread good vibes to those around me. The healing ripple starts within and radiates beyond.
I also love eating good straight-from-the-earth food because I get to step out of the grocery store and shop more locally. I love going to fish markets. I also love driving around and finding random vegetable stands and farmer's markets. Food-shopping is more of an adventure for me than a chore. I get to pick out fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats and see where they actually come from. On occasion, I even meet the farmers and talk to the local fishermen. There is a whole community out there devoted to real food and they are some of the most open, kind, and sincere people I've ever met.
So if you haven't already, give honest eating a try. I don't believe in eating to lose weight or eating for superficial reasons. I've been there done that and the only thing that kind of eating has ever brought me is more pain and frustration. I am all about eating for the mind, body, and soul. I am all about eating with good intentions.
Here is my list of "Brain-Healthy Foods". I am not a doctor and I did not conduct my own scientific studies to support these claims. All I know is that ever since I started eating this way two years ago, I have felt amazing and haven't looked back. What are some of your favorite meals? What foods uplift you? Feel free to share!
Brain Healthy Foods
Oatmeal (or any whole grain product): Carbohydrates boost serotonin which eases anxiety.
.Flaxseeds: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce depression and improve overall mental health; Vitamin B-6 helps brain produce serotonin and melatonin.
Sunflower seeds: Folic acid (AKA vitamin B-9) can help reduce depression and improve mental functioning; Magnesium controls over-active mind/body and reduces stress.
Nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds): Magnesium controls over-active mind/body and reduces stress.
Beans (pinto, chickpea, and mung especially): Folic acid can help reduce depression and improve mental functioning; Magnesium controls over-active mind/body and reduces stress.
Bananas: Vitamin B-6 helps brain produce serotonin and melatonin; Tryptophan improves sleep, mood, and behavior.
Pineapples: Vitamin C to boost energy.
Spinach: Folic acid can help reduce depression and improve mental functioning; Vitamin C to boost energy; Vitamin E protects brain cells.
Sweet potato: Vitamin C to boost energy; Vitamin A improves learning and memory.
Avocados: Monosaturated fats boost mood and help the body relax.
Cottage cheese: Whey protein decreases anxiety and irritability.
Salmon (pretty much all fish): Omega-3 fatty acids reduce depression and improve overall mental health.
Tuna and Sardines: Selenium stabilizes mood.
Turkey: Tryptophan improves sleep, mood, and behavior; Selenium stabilizes mood.
Dark chocolate: Phenylethylamine relieves depression and reduces stress.
Kombucha: Probiotics support healthy gut bacteria which helps control emotional health.
Herbal Tea: Helps ease anxiety and insomnia.
Foods to Limit/Avoid (All addictive)
Processed carbs (activates same parts of brain as cocaine.)