Food for Thought

This blog post is in Partnership with The Cool Gardener NZ.

Hello poppets!

I hope you’re all doing well.

This week on my blog and social media I have been talking about a topic that has been growing increasingly important to me especially over the last few years and thats health and nutrition and just how it can impact us!

I have talked a little bit on my blog before about my experiences with food and nutrition (or lack of it, yikes!) and will be doing an update in regards to that next week.

This week I wanted to talk about just how important it is to feed and nourish our bodies and just how it can benefit our mental health! I find it just fascinating that the food we eat can affect our mental health. Yes, I can understand how it affects our bodies but how’s it getting all the way up there?!

It’s true though!

Yep, just like the heart, stomach and liver, the brain is an organ that is sensitive to what we eat and drink! To keep it tippty top it needs different amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water.

Research regarding food and the specific types of food we should actually be eating to support good mental health is forever changing but there has been a great deal of evidence to show the links between a poor diet and various mood disorders including anxiety and depression. It seems to come from the lack of vitamins and goodness we get (or don’t get) when are diets are based around refined sugary and processed foods.

Last week I talked a bit about how having a sleep routine is part of me practicing good mental health and me eating well is part of practicing good mental health too! Over the last few years I have learnt a lot about how the things I eat can affect both my emotional and physical health and have learnt to recognise what my body and mind needs.

My diet is very much centred around making sure I get enough protein, vitamins and minerals into my system and drinking plenty of water, especially as I spent so many years without those vital things. I definitely started out upping my intake for my body and physical health, but have been shocked at the benefits to my mental health too.

Protein is incredibly important and not just to maintain our skin, muscle and immune functions but recent research suggests that one particular component of protein ‘amino acid tryptophan’ is important in its effect on the brain too!

In terms of vitamins some mental health difficulties have been linked to vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. For example, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with anxiety and depression and a lack of vitamin B12 has been known to exacerbate symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

I know!

Water and staying hydrated is also incredibly important and even mild dehydration can affect our feelings and performance, often characterised by restlessness and irritability.

I can tell when I am not getting enough of these things and especially with my water in take. I feel when we start to learn about what plays a part in our mental and physical health we become more aware and more cautious of what we put into our bodies and we are more in tune with what affects us.

I am never going to be one of those people that eats all organic whole foods and my treats replaced with cocoa nibs (nothing wrong with that by the way!) and to me it’s not about that. It’s about having balance and listening to our bodies and making choices based on that.

I have changed things like my snacking habits and instead of heavily flavoured chips packed with additives I chose rice crackers or a current favourite of mine, hummus chips! Instead of sugary snacks throughout the day I will snack on apple slices and peanutbutter or yoghurt and fruit.

Even with things like takeaways; I would often get a takeaway pizza thinking it was a good idea at the time but after eating it I would be left feeling sluggish and tired. The heavy bases and grease just didn’t seem to agree with my body so now I make pizzas at home instead! I make or buy a thin base and top it with fresh ingredients from the local farmers market like ripened tomatoes and fresh basil. Not only is it better for me but I love the whole experience of putting my music on and getting stuck into making them which too is good for my mental health!

(Image: The Cool Gardener Beetroot Patties)

Talking of eating nourishing and brain healthy foods I would like to introduce you to The Cool Gardener. Pff, like I have to introduce you! I find it so funny that each time I go and grab something from their selection of delicious goods at the supermarket the person behind the till always comments on just how good that particular item in my hand is or excitedly asks me if I have tried ‘xyz’ yet?!

Yep, they’re really that good! In fact The Cool Gardeners products are not only vegan Friendly, gluten free and made with no artificial colours or flavours but they are also incased in plastic free packaging!

(Image: The Cool Gardener Falafels)

The Cool Gardeners selection has been a firm lunch favourite of mine for some time now. Lunch for me was that tricky meal of the day. I would NEVER know what to have and would often find myself skipping it out of pure laziness or simply a lack of knowing just what to have.

Missing meals, especially breakfast and lunch, can lead to low blood sugar which cause low mood, irritability and fatigue. The Cool Gardener products have made it easy for me to have and enjoy lunch but also still get the goodness I need!

Currently I am loving making wraps using their mediterranean Style falafels! I have been switching my wrap up between a spinach or sun-dried tomato one and filing it with spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado and the trusty falafels! For a sauce I use anything from plain yoghurt to another favourite of mine, Culleys picklenaise!

(Image: The Cool Gardener Falafels)

Another favourite of mine is their beetroot patties. These little guys are incredible and such a light and refreshing change to regular patties. They can be made into burgers, open top sandwiches or just on their own with a few sides.

Talking of sides, I couldn’t do a post with these guys without featuring their Kumara (sweet potato) fries which are just INCREDIBLE!

(Image: The Cool Gardener Kumara fries)

If you are reading this post thinking ‘ergh, I know I should be making healthier choices but…’ I feel you. Food and my health just wasn’t a priority to me for so long and I guess that’s the reason I am so passionate about it. I have realised the changes and improvements I’ve made to both my mental and physical health just by eating better. Im here to tell you its worth taking that time to learn about your body and just what it needs. Think of it as me already trying it for you! Ha ha!

I know another thing that puts people off eating better is the expense which is another thing I understand. Let’s face it a healthy diet can sadly be more expensive than a diet made up of more refined foods. There is things you can do though to make it a little more cost effective from buying frozen fruits and vegetables (which doesn’t affect the nutritional value) and cutting down on takeaways and alcohol to make more spending room for healthier foods.

Believe me I still love my biscuits, chips and treats, I just know to not make them the main feature of my diet now. It really is that thing of balance which I think we have almost forgotten about.

I feel this is a topic thats incredibly important and is truly fascinating. If you are struggling with your mood or like I was just not feeling 100% its well worth looking into your diet and the things you eat to see if that could be playing a part.

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This blog post is in partnership with The Cool Gardener. All opinions featured are my own and I only feature brands, products and organisations that are inline with my beliefs and values.

Take care



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