Gut Health and Your Diet

In recent years there has been an emergence of research that has shown just how important the health of the gut is! When your digestive system isn’t doing its thing, all other areas of your health can soon become compromised. Continue reading Gut Health and Your Diet

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!

How to Deal with Stress

Stress is often an unavoidable part of life. It is something that strikes during particularly trying times and helps us to recognise that something is difficult. Although the existence of stress is something that we can’t deny or avoid, there are ways that we can productively deal with stress to ensure that the impact it has on our lives is minimal.

Although stress is most likely something that you would rather live without, it is one of several negative emotions that give contrast to the positivity in our lives. Negative feelings, such as stress and fear, help us to understand how we feel about things, and they often also serve as warnings that we are not entirely comfortable with a situation or happy with ourselves.

Although I often advocate ways to deal with negative emotions and feelings, I would never advise someone to repress them entirely. This is because I believe it is important to embrace this side of yourself.

Stress can manifest in several different ways that can be quite individual to a person. You may find that for you it starts with a mild feeling of anxiety about a certain situation or person. This can then quickly develop into a larger concern that leaves you feeling depressed and reluctant to deal with the situation in question. The additional consequences of this could be that your sleep pattern is affected, your appetite changes and that your mood is prone to inconsistency as irritability sets in.

It can be difficult to manage stress because often it is connected to a potential future concern that you currently have no control over. It can also often just generally be connected to things outside of your control, and therefore there is little that you can do to mitigate this stress. If this is the case then the most effective thing that you can do is check in with yourself in regards to your feelings, and then try as best as you can to restore calm and a more usual frame of mind.

So, when you begin to feel stress take over, ask yourself the following questions:

“What is the absolute worst outcome of this situation?”

“Is there anything I can do in this moment to lessen the severity of the situation?”

“Why has this situation left me feeling like this?”

Once you know the answers to these questions, then you can begin to find a remedy to your predicament and alleviate the stress you are feeling. Often a fear of confrontation will prevent us from addressing our problems head on, leading us to unintentionally exaggerate the seriousness of an issue. When this is the case, simply being upfront and talking things out can bring some relief or allow a solution to present itself.

Some time spent in deep meditation is a great way to truly understand your feelings about your stress, and can also guide you towards resolution.

On my wellness for women website – Truly Julie – I share resources, advice and support that can help you deal with stress head on, as well as helping you to mentally prepare yourself for other sources of negativity!

How to Tackle Anxiety and Depression

There are such a wide range of reasons why a person might struggle with anxiety and depression that it is impossible to say that everyone can benefit from the same advice. However, there are certain things at the core of these mental health issues that people may share. These things can pertain to a prolonged traumatic experience, an isolated incident or a genetic pre-disposition – to name just a few!

Regardless of the initial reasons why anxiety or depression may have struck, there are certain ways to address these issues in order to work towards a resolution and an improved general quality of life.

First, and arguably the most conventional solution, you may find that seeking professional help and guidance is the best way to address your struggles. Talking therapy is an especially constructive way of getting to the root of your problems and for equipping yourself with coping mechanisms. The validation and clarity that therapy can provide can be a key turning point on the road to recovery for many people. Your GP will be able to put the wheels in motion for you if you are unable to seek a private therapist.

On a more personal level, finding ways to care for and have compassion for yourself is a useful skill to master. This can take many forms, but essentially means that you will always recognise and prioritise your own needs. It also means being more supportive and forgiving of yourself and your mistakes. Doing so can help you to always be aware that your feelings and emotions are completely valid and that any negativity can be overcome.

Having a belief in your own personal strength can help to build your self worth which can be useful in overcoming anxiety and depression. Every difficult thing that you have experienced in your life has helped you to grow as a person, and with each incident you will have undoubtedly become a stronger person. Take the time to give yourself credit for this and to understand that you have the potential to overcome any challenging experience.

Finally, figure out what your boundaries are and make sure that anybody who is present in your life knows what these boundaries are. Do not be afraid to say no to things you are uncomfortable with. Be sure not to compromise your boundaries in any circumstances and always re-iterate to yourself that they are important.

My online e-learning portal will soon have a new course dedicated to self-love, letting go and happiness which are all concepts that can help us to understand our passions! Head to the Flexi Foodie Academy soon to sign up and Like my Facebook page to be the first to know when it comes out!

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Simple Changes for Increased Energy

Having more energy is something that many of us dream of. With demanding work schedules and a long list of everyday pressures, finding the energy to keep going till bedtime can sometimes feel impossible. Not having enough energy to make it through the day can not only mean that certain things don’t get done, but it can also be detrimental to your mood. When you don’t have the motivation to do the things you want, this can quickly affect your happiness and leave you feeling low. Some people try to rely on caffeine and other stimulants to keep themselves going, but this will only lead to dependancy and other ill-health effects. In fact, they could leave you feeling worse than you did before.

So, how can you keep your energy levels up without resorting to non-natural options?

First of all, even it it seems like you just don’t have the time, try to always have a period of relaxation during each day. During this time you can do whatever it is that you consider to be relaxing. Go for a walk, read a book, have a nap etc. This is your time and it will help to refresh your mind and re-energise your body to continue with the day.

Secondly, exercise is important. You may think that exercise will drain your energy and therefore you avoid it. But exercising regularly will actually raise your energy levels as well as improve your mood and boost your stamina. Even as little as 30 minutes, three times a week could help to get you on track. Yoga is a great choice because it also promotes relaxation while you exercise.

In addition to the the things you have to do, try to make time for the things you like to do. Feeling in control of your day is essential to keep your energy and your mood on track. So if you need to take some time to have some fun then give yourself this treat.

Finally, it is essential to your continued good health and your energy levels that you aim to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Give yourself a bedtime and do your best to stick to it. As you get into this routine your sleep cycle will improve and you will approach each day full of energy and motivation.

You may immediately think that you don’t have time to do any of the things I have suggested. If so, I want you to really evaluate how you spend your day. If you know that you spend time watching TV, surfing the internet, talking to your friends on the phone etc, then reallocate a portion of this time to the activities I have mentioned.

Incorporating these lifestyle tips with a nutrition plan will help to boost your efforts. Head to the Flexi Foodie Academy to find out how simple this can be!

The Path to Happiness

In our modern day world you would be forgiven for thinking that it is impossible to be truly happy if you don’t have a continuos source of pleasure in your life. It has become a common misconception that true happiness can only be derived from pleasure, whereas in reality the two do not always have to be connected. In order to understand why this is true, it is helpful to look back on ancient perspectives of happiness and how people through the ages have attempted to interpret its meaning.

The idea that the mind is completely responsible for happiness is one that has been explored extensively. The essence of this concept is that perception is everything and by finding ways to believe that happiness surrounds you will in turn breed feelings of persistent happiness. In order to achieve this it is essential to find ways to have a positive response to every situation and experience that you encounter. This can of course be a difficult rule to live by as the majority of us can never have complete control over all of our emotions! So, for those of us who can’t, I’ve put together the following list of simple concepts that can help us to strive towards a place of peace positivity.

First of all, I encourage you to accept the fact that happiness is not something that will appear overnight. It is a journey that we take which requires our attention and effort. Don’t see happiness as something that you are entitled to, but rather something which you earn through your behaviour and treatment of others. As you spread happiness, it will come back to you. Be grateful for the happiness that others extend to you and show appreciation for those who do so.

Secondly, work to adjust your perceptions of the things that happen in your life. Allowing yourself to have your mood dragged down by negative events beyond your control plays straight into the hands of sadness. Try to see light in every dark situation and understand that with every setback you are growing as a person. Your character is dependant on the way you conduct yourself in the world and refusing to let negativity in will go a long way to aiding you on your journey to happiness.

Finally, spend some time contemplating the things that are important to you and the things that you believe to be true in terms of a basic belief system. Do you want to eradicate cruelty from all aspects of your life? Do you want to be moral and virtuous in all of your interactions? Do you want to be kind and thoughtful to everyone you encounter? Once you know how you want to live, it will be much easier to implement this lifestyle. It isn’t until you truly do so that you will be able to reap the happiness that doing so brings!

Eat These Foods to Boost Your Mood!

Throughout each day your mood will be influenced by many different things. These can, of course, be both positive and negative and will affect the way you feel during each day. As well as your interactions with other people and your environment, the food that you consume will play a role in influencing your mood.

People who consume processed or sugary foods regularly are likely to find that they experience a low mood or even depression. This can be because these foods wreak havoc with our blood sugar levels which causes a fluctuation in energy levels. This can quickly lead to irritability and fatigue which will make even the happiest of people quite grumpy! Making healthy, positive changes to your diet across the whole is a great way to keep your mood steady but you can also try including certain superfoods for a quick boost!

Raw cacao powder is one of these foods and I would suggest you include a serving in your diet every day, especially if you are already struggling with a low mood. Cacao has a seriously impressive range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals within and is responsible for the perception people have of chocolate improving your mood. However, with processed chocolate products you also get an unhealthy dose of additives and other chemicals which can disrupt your hormones and actually be of detriment to your mood! Stick to raw, unprocessed cacao powder and you will soon see the benefits!

Chilli is another fantastic ingredient you can use to bring a dose of happiness to your day. Studies have shown that when we consume chilli, in any form, it increases the presence of endorphins in the brain which in turn gives us a pleasurable feeling! It is so easy to scatter just a pinch on your lunch and dinner, alternatively you can choose a delicious chilli sauce!

As you will know if you read my blog frequently, I am an advocate of the amazing health benefits of coconut oil and when it comes to your happiness this is especially true! The composition of healthy fats in coconut oil, as well as coconut milk and other coconut products, boosts your brain health. A healthy brain leads to a healthy mind and I would suggest consuming it in moderation regularly!

Most importantly of all, be sure that the majority of the food that you eat is real, wholesome, plant-based food! Don’t sabotage your mood with rubbish that is going to weigh your body down and disrupt your happiness!

For more top tips on how nutrition is essential for a healthy body and mind, check out The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Simple Suggestions to Beat Stress

Stress is something that I talk about quite regularly on my blog as I feel it is such an important thing to avoid if we are to maintain optimum health! The statistics as to how many people are seriously stressed out are pretty shocking, with a recent survey suggesting that as much as 80% of America is experiencing stress of some sort! Experts will now tell you that stress, especially stress caused by the workplace, is as bad for your health as second hand smoke is!

The detrimental effect that stress has on your long term mental health is quite serious but it can also extend to your physical health. The most common mental impacts are depression and anxiety whereas common physical complaints associated with stress include heart disease, digestive trouble and autoimmune problems.

If stress is something that you are all too familiar with then the idea of eradicating it or lessening its impact might sound absurd to you. However, before you resign yourself to this way of life forever, check out my following tips for finding some relief!

First of all, create a very practical yet reasonable to-do list for yourself. This should consist of just main tasks that you aim to achieve in the next few weeks. Don’t worry yourself more with long term plans that you want to work towards and similarly don’t concern yourself with the small things that don’t really matter. At the end of every day, take a moment to relax and consider the points on your list. If you find that they are no longer relevant then strike them off as not all of your plans need to be met! Also, of course, if you have achieved any tasks during the day then cross them off also. Try to keep the same list, with any additions, for a few weeks so that you can look back over time and see all that you have accomplished.

Secondly, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. So instead of setting your alarm to get you up right before you have to be at work, set it a little earlier and give yourself time to enter the day slowly. As soon as you start to feel awake, stretch your arms and legs and think of three things that you are grateful for. This will help you to get going on a positive note and will also encourage you to show gratitude for those things during the day!

Mindful breathing is a great way to bring some focus back to your day and can be done in any place for any amount of time! When you start to feel the stress seeping in, take yourself to a quiet spot and do some deep breathing exercises with your eyes closed. Allow the calm to regain control and then attempt to continue with your day. If you find that this wasn’t enough to clear your mind then try taking a short walk outside away from other people.

Finally, a huge point of stress in the modern day world is the constant bombardment of technology and social media. If one of the first things you do in the morning is check your Facebook or Twitter feed then you are more than likely to see a scrolling list of other people’s ambitions and achievements. Looking at pictures of your friend’s babies and posts about their job promotions might be a great experience when you are in the right mood but it can also cause feelings of inadequacy to appear. Try to limit your social media use and focus on your own life away from the computer!

Plant Based Foods to Beat Anxiety

Anxiety is a worldwide problem and manifests in many different shapes and forms. It can range in seriousness from slightly inconvenient to completely debilitating and relief is sought in many different places. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States currently suffer, have suffered or will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. This equates to over 18% of the population! That huge number demonstrates just how many of us are afflicted with this condition.

Many people immediately turn to medication to manage their anxiety but in some cases it can be addressed through diet and exercise. Medication can cause some unfavourable side effects so if it is possible to avoid it then it is always worth exploring alternative options. Additionally, medication often only masks the root of the anxiety and as soon as treatment stops the problem can resurface. Finding ways to naturally treat imbalances in the body is the optimum way to move towards better long term mental health.

So let’s take a look at the things you can aim to include in your diet to combat the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

Green tea is cheap, simple and delicious. It is generally calming for the mind and when consumed regularly can work to decrease anxiety overall. Some variations of green tea are believed to have a positive effect on cortisol production in terms of balancing levels of this stress hormone in the body.

Turmeric is an amazing spice, both in terms of colour and taste and is known to enhance your mood. This spice contains antioxidants called curcuminoids which has neuroprotective qualities. Studies into the effectiveness of turmeric to combat depression have yielded encouraging results.

Avocados are an all round super food and can be useful for tackling anxiety. They contain high levels of potassium which works to control blood pressure, which in turn can help to keep your mood balanced. Avocados also contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to keep your brain functioning as it should!

Finally, asparagus can also be consumed regularly in an effort to reduce feelings of anxiety. This is because it contains folic acid which is connected to the health of your neurological function. Impaired neurological function can be an underlying cause of anxiety and it is always worth making sure you get ample amounts of folic acid in your diet. As an added bonus, asparagus contains a small amount of potassium too, which as mentioned previously helps with that all important blood pressure!

Why it’s Important to Express Gratitude

With such busy lives and so many things to think about, expressing gratitude for the things that you have can often be the last thing on your mind. However, there are so many great reasons to do so that it is well worth remembering to include each and every day! The concept of gratitude is focused around acknowledging the positive aspects of your life – both those that other people provide and those that you create for yourself.

By making a mental note to contemplate gratitude every day, you will be opening your heart and your mind to truly appreciating the good things in your life. As well as these things, you should also make time to show gratitude for the important people who love and support you. This can take many forms. It could simply be thinking positive things about these people, telling them directly that you love and appreciate them or even with a kind gesture. This may seem like a strange idea to you at first and you may even be slightly embarrassed to express these feelings out loud to people. However, with practice it will soon feel completely natural.

As you continue to show your gratitude to those you care for, you will often notice that the dynamic of your relationship shifts. Your bond will become stronger and the other person will be more open with their own feelings towards you. This makes for a long-lasting and loyal friendship.

As well as being great for your personal relationships there is actual scientific evidence that expressing gratitude is beneficial for health. First of all it is a good way to ward of depression. This is because it encourages an optimistic outlook and provides the opportunity to focus on positive events and people. Secondly it is known to help combat anxiety because of the feelings of peacefulness that it promotes. Research has shown that practicing gratitude is particularly useful to those who suffer from stress related problems and conditions such as PTSD. Finally, there is also research to suggest that it will mean good things for your sleep pattern. This is generally because of the improvement to your mood. A good nights sleep plays an important part in your overall optimum health and should never be overlooked as an important part of your routine!

As you can see, the simple act of expressing gratitude can improve your life in several different but equally important ways. Start on your journey towards these things today by making a list of everything you are grateful for and then find productive ways to show this gratitude!