Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Food for Thoughts | Guest Post

Self Care practices differ for everyone. While I need to unwind and force myself to relax, others look to bigger lifestyle changes to care for their body and mind.
Today I'm delighted to host a guest blog from Oisín who has found that looking after your diet can have a huge impact on your mental health. Oisín is a journalism student and a frequent contributor to The Outspoken Post.

At the start of the year I decided to try eating a plant based diet for at least 6 months. My reasons for attempting a vegan diet was not due to some moral dilemma I had about eating meat or dairy products, but self care reasons, as I wanted to try and reduce anxiety and stress levels.

I am a month into it so far and I have noticed a difference. I find myself feeling more relaxed and less anxious even in situations that previously made me anxious. This could be that I am eating a more healthy diet than before, as I am eating more vegetables and fruit and also I get the feel good factor from sticking to my diet and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I also lost weight I had gained over the Christmas period which was a nice side effect!

There is a downside, the first two weeks I started to crave pizza and milk chocolate. Also I felt hungry all the time and was constantly eating. I missed some takeaway meals that I love, like garlic cheese fries, so I went to the health-food shop and picked up egg free garlic mayonnaise and vegan cheese (which tastes like normal cheese to be honest) and made my own, which was very tasty and I didn’t feel sluggish due to the lack grease found in chipper foods and I have tried that with other takeaway foods and I still had the same enjoyment of eating it without the regret.

Now if I am feeling down or stressed instead of going for a Kinder Bueno (and trust me that was my go to bar for that temporally moment of pure happiness) I eat nuts and fruit. Cashew nuts are actually natural anti-depressants filled with niacin and studies show that eating an apple a day makes you calmer and more energetic. (Read more)

If you love meat and dairy products too much to try a plant based diet, I would recommend cutting down on those food groups and eating more fruit and vegetables and see if you notice any difference in your depression levels and anxiety. Or if you like to indulge like myself, see if there is a healthier option and be creative! Youtube has so many channels which are dedicated to healthy alternatives to our favourite junk foods; even the classic Big Mac has a vegan alternative!
But be conscience of what food you put into your body, as processed foods can be high in sugar and salt which doesn’t help anxiety levels. Here is a list from Livesstrong about what foods to stay cut down or stay away from.

Another way to keep care of your mental health through diet is stay hydrated; studies have shown that dehydration can cause anxiety and depression, especially after eating foods high in sugar and salt. I drink a lot of water throughout the day, but I also drink a lot of mint tea which also helps, as it has no caffeine (which can cause anxiety) like regular tea and doesn’t need milk to taste good, which can have high amounts of sugar. There are so many different herbal teas you can try and they all have their own health benefits. Here is a list of all the health uses of different herbal teas.
In essence, a happy mind is can be linked to a happy stomach. So try some of these tips and see if they help!

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