Anxiety and your Diet

Choosing which food we will nourish our bodies with is among the most important decisions that we will make each day. With our dietary choices we have the potential to either heal or harm ourselves, and this is particularly true when it comes to anxiety.

Research has shown that certain foods can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, whereas other foods have the potential to combat and ease these feelings. If anxiety is something that is affecting your life in some way then taking notice of the following tips could go a long way to helping you overcome it!

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is extremely beneficial for promoting feelings of calm and happiness.

Tryptophan naturally occurs in several plant-based foods, most notably in bananas, oats, peanut butter and sesame seeds.

Vitamin B

There is much research to suggest a connection between the various B vitamins and the mood. In fact, a deficiency in any of the B vitamins can lead to a low mood, anxiety and even depression.

Eating a range of foods that contain B vitamins is the best way to enjoy the many benefits of this vitamin group. Good foods to include are leafy green vegetables, oranges, nuts, spirulina, watermelon, spinach, rice and legumes.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates often get a bad rep in the wellness world, but they are actually great for increasing serotonin production. Whole grain carbohydrates are the best choice and you should make an effort to avoid processed carbs, such as white rice and white bread.

When you eat whole grain carbohydrates it takes a while for your body to break them down, and this means that sugar is being released into the bloodstream relatively slowly. This is great for consistent energy levels as well as consistent mood.

The best things to include are brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat pasta and legumes.

Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to dietary choices that encourage feelings of anxiety!

Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, are often favoured for the quick burst of energy that they can provide, but after the high comes the inevitable crash – and this can impact your mood as well as your energy levels! Furthermore, studies have shown that the presence of caffeine can actually inhibit serotonin production. This can quickly cause you to be more prone to feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression!

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Prioritising Plant-Based Foods

We all know that there is much to be gained health-wise from including more fruits and vegetables in our diets. You do not have to always be eating the latest superfoods in order to stay healthy, and there is an abundance of goodness to be found in common fruits and vegetables.

If you know how great these plant-based foods can be but struggle to include them in your diet, then the following tips can help you overcome this problem.

Learn to Love Salad

Salad is something that you may more commonly enjoy as a side dish than a main meal, and adjusting your thinking on this is encouraged! There are many amazingly filling and super healthy salad recipes that you can enjoy regularly as a main meal. Doing so will go a long way to ensuring that you eat more greens, as well as all the other exciting fruit and vegetables that you can easily include in a salad.

Say Yes to Healthy Snacks

Snacking on junk food late at night is where many dieters find their downfall to be. Making the decision to only snack on fruit after dinner, instead of trying to avoid snacking entirely, is a great way to satisfy your cravings whilst also nourishing your body. Frozen bananas are a particularly good choice for those with a sweet tooth, and they can be enjoyed with a light topping for extra flavour, such as peanut butter or maple syrup.

Fresh Fruit for Breakfast

The majority of breakfast dishes can be very well complimented by the addition of one piece or more of fresh fruit. Try adding berries to your cereal, avocado to your toast or cherry tomatoes to your eggs. Whatever your go-to breakfast dish is, the chances are you will enjoy it even more once it is accompanied with some plant-based goodness!

Mix Up Your Smoothies

Smoothies are a simple and delicious way to consume several portions of fruit and vegetables at one time. If you primarily make your smoothies with fruit then the time has come to throw some vegetables into the mix. Try carrots, beets and fennel to get started!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Strawberry Cacao Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe is incredibly simple to make and will literally take you five minutes from start to finish (excluding the freezing of the bananas obviously)! I always like to have a stash of frozen bananas in my freezer so whenever the mood strikes – or one of my children asks – I can quickly whip up a batch of healthy ice cream.

Using raw cacao in ice cream is such an amazing way to make your dessert super healthy. Cacao beans come from the cacao tree, which is native to Mexico and Central America. Raw cacao generally has a nutty taste but can be quite bitter. Cacao beans are absolutely bursting with antioxidants, which as we know are essential in the fight against free radicals in the body. Cacao beans also contain a happy dose of iron, calcium and magnesium. The health benefits of consuming raw cacao regularly range from alleviating depression, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.

Including a cup of strawberries in your ice cream recipe not only gives this dish a beautiful colour and luxurious flavour, but it also brings a wealth of nutrients to the dish. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as folate and fibre. Similarly to raw cacao, strawberries are bursting with antioxidants. Strawberries also contain an abundance of potassium. Potassium is essential for many functions in the body, not least of all balancing your electrolytes. Potassium also helps the muscles to function properly and works to keep your blood pressure at an optimum level by combatting the presence of sodium in the body. Just one serving of strawberries is enough to provide a daily dose of potassium – so my ice cream is the perfect answer!

To make enough for two people to pile their bowls high you will need the following ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (remove the peel, chop and then freeze overnight)
1 Tbsp. of raw cacao
1 tsp. of vanilla essence
1 cup of strawberries
200ml of almond milk
A squeeze of honey (or any other natural sweetener)

All you have to do is place the frozen bananas in your blender with the almond milk and then blitz until creamy. You can then add in the rest of the ingredients and blitz again for a few moments. Serve into two bowls and enjoy!

You can find a raspberry variation of this delicious recipe on my soon to be released second course on The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Kaleberry Ice Cream

This is great way to get your kids to eat a dairy free, sugar free ice cream that even has a dark, green leafy vegetable in it – which they can’t see.  Genius, right? Yes, some times parents have to think of clever ways to get these greens into our kids diets.  Well, I can tell you – this one works!  Last night, all 4 kids happily consumed this ice-cream and my greedy guts 6-year old even had seconds!  It take NO time to whizz together.  So, next time your kids ask for ice cream, how about trying this one instead!  Warning:  This does not contain SUGAR!
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Grab yourself these nutritious bits:
1 cup coconut milk; I prefer the brand ‘koko’ – yum.
Pop in 2 bananas in your freezer to make sure they’re nice and frozen before blending.
A super large handful of Kale (or even 2 super large handfuls if you prefer!)
2 pitted dates (love the medjool ones)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of himalayan sea salt
3-4 small ice cubes
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Put all the ingredients in a high-speed blender, Vitamix is a great one – and watch how quickly (about 30 seconds) your ingredients morph into a delicious and incredibly nutrient-dense ice cream!  Top with some mint and you are good to go!
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Blueberries are SHAMAZING!  They are always ranked as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. Antioxidants are essential to optimizing health by helping to combat the free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA. So, I am in with a grin with the blueberries!  To change it up, go ahead and strawberries or raspberries or even blackberries or why not a big mixture of those amazing dark berries.
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