Self-Care Sunday – Alleviating Anxiety

The latest topic in my Self-Care Sunday series is all about alleviating anxiety. This is the fifth week and you can check out the previous videos below!

Causes of Anxiety

There are many reasons why you may experience anxiety – and the degree to which it prevents you from going about your day can also vary. Addressing underlying issues and past negative experiences can be extremely helpful for working to resolve the sources of anxiety, and it can also be helpful to look to your diet.

Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most prominent dietary contributors to feelings of anxiety. As a stimulant it can quickly cause feelings of anxiety, or exacerbate existing feelings of anxiety. Also, it can sometimes be easy to mistake the way that caffeine makes you feel for anxiety – as it may increase your heart rate and cause feelings of restlessness.

Alcohol

Some people use alcohol in order to alleviate feelings of anxiety, but doing so can actually become a difficult cycle to get out of. Although drinking alcohol can temporarily soothe these feelings, they will likely surface again once the alcohol leaves your system – causing increased levels of anxiety to return.

When you drink alcohol you are disrupting the natural balance of chemicals in your brain, and this can lead to depression and addiction.

Sugar

Studies have suggested that the presence of sugar in your system can affect how well your body and brain can cope with stress. Although sugar itself does not seem to cause the onset of anxiety, it can make symptoms worse and cause you to feel worse than you would otherwise during an anxious moment.

Furthermore, if you regularly consume sugar and then go without it, your body can actually experience withdrawal which may involve feelings of anxiety.

Your Diet

Taking a close look at your diet and making the conscious decision to remove problem foods can go a long way to helping alleviate your anxiety.

In the following video I talk more on the topic of Alleviating Anxiety! Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel whilst you’re there so you can be automatically alerted about future videos in my Self-Care Sunday series!

Also, 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 move towards the end of 2017!

Winter Immune System Health

As the winter season begins to settle in it becomes all the more important that we pay attention to the health of our immune systems. Consciously supporting your immune system should be seen as giving yourself a helping hand to stay healthy through the winter, and always close to the top of your priority list! 

There are several small things that you can do to give this aspect of your health a boost, and doing so can not only protect your body from illness, but will also help you to maintain your positive mood. When we begin to get ill our happiness can suffer, and this can lead to increased levels of stress as we struggle to find the energy and the motivation to get things done. This can become a cyclic problem as higher levels of stress can further compromise the immune system!

Get to Bed

Getting enough sleep can sometimes feel impossible. We all have our different reasons for not always getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep at night – but whatever your reason, it is important for the health of your immune system that you work to resolve the problem.

You can try going to bed earlier, avoiding caffeine or other dietary stimulants in the evening, meditating before bed and creating a more peaceful sleeping environment for yourself.

Eat for Digestive Health

The health of your digestive system is closely connected to your immune system function, and this is something I discussed in my previous article on Gut Health and your Diet.

Cutting out highly processed foods and those that are high in sugar is a great place to start. Additionally, taking a daily probiotic can help to encourage the presence of good bacteria in the gut.

Want to learn more about how eating more plant-based foods can enhance your health in other ways too? Click here now to check out my starter guide!

Pay Attention to Vitamin D

Vitamin D is most commonly known for its role is protecting bone health, but it is also important for the health of your immune system. Your body naturally creates vitamin D from the sun, and getting outside into the sunshine is a simple way to make sure you are producing enough. However, this can become a problem during the winter months due to the grey weather and shorter days.

Fortunately, many foods are fortified with vitamin D and it also occurs naturally in quite a range of foods. Therefore making the extra effort to include vitamin D rich produce during the colder months will help to keep your immune system functioning properly.

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!

Spotting the Signs of Ill Health

Staying on top of your health is super important if you are to help to lower your risk of illness and maintain your energy levels. You may initially think that this is quite difficult to do, especially given the large amounts of conflicting advice in regards to health and wellness. However, there are some key things that you can look out for! Continue reading Spotting the Signs of Ill Health

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

Fruit & Fructose

If you have been following my blog for a while then the chances are you will have often heard me speak of the dangers of consuming refined sugars!

It is widely acknowledged that too much of the sweet stuff can lead to weight gain, heart disease, disruption of the hormones, fluctuating energy levels, premature ageing of the skin and more! What’s more, is that refined sugar is added in excess to many of the processed and packaged foods that are easily available in the supermarket!

One of the most contentious points up for discussion when it comes to sugar is whether the natural sugars from fruit should be considered ‘bad’ as well!

Fruit contains glucose and fructose – both of which are simple sugars. Glucose can be used by the majority of the cells in your body, but only your liver is able to metabolise fructose.

If you are eating large amounts of fruit, and therefore consuming high levels of fructose, then your liver may have a hard time working through it all. This can then lead to excess fructose being stored as fat in the body. Furthermore, this can also lead to the onset of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Eating fruit provides a wealth of health benefits thanks to the delicious amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients contained within. However, because of the natural sugars that are present, many fruits should be enjoyed in moderation.

There are some fruits that you can enjoy without worrying too much about the fructose content, such as avocados, kiwis, pears and berries. However, fruits that are especially high in sugars, such as grapes and mangoes, should be included only in small amounts.

It should be noted that if you are a very physically active person then you have much less to worry about when it comes to fructose in fruit. This is because when the body is active, it is much better equipped to handle simple sugars. So, if you want to continue to enjoy the fruits that you love without being overly concerned about fructose, then be sure to engage in an ample amount of exercise!

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!

Raw Coconut Balls

If you are a coconut junkie, then this will quickly become your go-to snack! Packed with superfoods and natural sweeteners, this recipe will also help keep any sweet cravings in check. These balls may be small (which is great for taking them everywhere with you!) but they contain some serious nutrition which makes them the perfect pick-me-up throughout the day. I especially recommend them before and after exercise to give your body the energy it needs!

Lucuma is one of my favourite natural sweeteners and you can buy it in powder form. It is made from a subtropical fruit tree that is native to South America which can reach heights of 50 feet! Not only is this sweetener free from gluten, but it also contains a range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is useful for giving your immune system a boost as well as contributing to the function of several essential functions in the body. Lucuma powder is especially high in potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Using lucuma in your baking instead of regular sweeteners can help to bring about some serious benefits and promote optimal health.

Raw Coconut Balls2.pngTo make 10 – 12 of these balls, you will need the following ingredients:

2 cups / 70z / 200g of desiccated coconut (plus extra for rolling)
2 tbsp of coconut oil
2 tbsp of raw honey
1 tsp of lucuma powder
1 tsp of chia seeds

Raw Coconut BallsThe first step is to place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz for two to three minutes, or until you have a thick, coarse mixture. You can then remove the mixture from the blender and, using a large melon baller or your fingers, scoop and shape the mixture into 10–12 balls.

Roll each of the balls in a little bit of desiccated coconut, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes before serving. This tasty treat will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to three days. As mentioned previously, these balls are great for taking with you as you go about your busy day and will give you an energy boost when you need it!

This is one of the recipes from my book – Eat Real Foods – which was released this week!!! You can order your copy in the UK by clicking here and order your copy in the U.S by clicking here!

Is Your Diet Triggering Your Anxiety?

Anxiety is a very real but often invisible mental health problem that affects a large number of people throughout their lives. Official estimates suggest that at least 18% of the population will experience some form of ongoing anxiety problem in their lives. In previous blog posts I have discussed physical ways in which we can combat anxiety but today I want to address dietary issues that can make it worse. When a person is already suffering with an anxiety disorder, it is incredibly important not to add to this problem. There are several dietary triggers that are easy to avoid and in doing so you can potentially promote a greater sense of calm and control.

Sugar is a big one when it comes to our mood. Consuming even small amounts of refined sugar can wreak havoc with our energy levels and state of mind. This is because it causes a rapid boost in blood sugar which is then inevitably followed by a crash. When this crash occurs we can experience fatigue, irritation and anxiety. Avoiding sugar altogether and eating foods which regulate our blood sugar, as opposed to spiking it, will help us avoid this problem.

Caffeine is known to be a trigger for people with anxiety. Drinking too much coffee can have powerful stimulant effects and for many people it does become a sort of addiction. When you drink coffee you become more alert and this can lead us to overthink certain situations. Even if you do not recognise this as a trigger for your anxiety, try avoiding it for a couple of days and monitor your mood during this time. You may find that you are calmer and more relaxed throughout the day.

As well as avoiding sugar and coffee you should certainly check if you are getting enough sleep. People who have an anxiety issue can often find it more difficult to get to sleep but then this lack of sleep can cause the anxiety to intensify. This vicious cycle of sleep deprivation can be incredibly damaging to your mental health and it is important to try and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Yoga and meditation late in the evening are both positive ways to promote relaxation and encourage sleep. Try 30 minutes of either practice before bed and see if this makes a difference to your sleep pattern. You might also find that without sugar and caffeine sleep comes more easily to you!

If you eradicate sugar and caffeine from your diet but still find that your energy is low and your mood is unstable, then it would be advisable to analyse the rest of your diet. Make sure you are eating a variety of wholesome, plant-based foods that will keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. Also, make sure that you do not skip a meal and try to include some healthy snacks during the day. You will keep your metabolism stimulated as well as satisfying your stomach and mind!

Avoid These Foods & Improve Your Mood!

Diet and nutrition often appears to be such a complex topic. Knowing the right things to eat in order to maintain the optimum health of our bodies, both inside and out, can take a while to get to grips with. However, once you get there and you understand what’s good, what’s bad, what you need and what you don’t, then there are no limits to how great you can feel physically. However, the same thing also applies when considering your mental and emotional wellbeing.

The foods that you eat will have a great impact on your mood, making it all the more important that you choose wisely. Several ingredients found in common food items can have a serious impact on the nervous system which will not only affect energy levels but can also leave you feeling anxious and depressed. When considering this, one of the biggest problems is that even the smallest amounts of these ingredients can have cause these things to occur. That means that if you’re not avoiding these ingredients entirely then you’re at risk of disturbing your mood each and every day.

So, what ingredients am I referring to specifically?

First of all, sugar. It’s absolutely no secret that I detest this as such a huge part of the modern day diet. When it comes to processed and packaged foods, it is included in abundance and it is making us sicker and fatter the more we continue to consume it. It wreaks havoc with the pancreas and the liver, often leading to insulin resistance. Over consumption of sugar can quickly cause diabetes as well as severe problems with your thyroid gland. It will also cause blood sugar levels to spike which will then mean an imminent crash – and with this crash will come with an irritable mood. Sugar is best avoided altogether or at least only consumed in small, sensible portions rarely.

The next major culprit is white flour. You might think that you don’t consume that much white flour but it is frequently used in things like soup and salad dressing as a thickening agent. It does crazy things to our blood glucose levels without providing any real nutrition. Consuming white flour will quickly cause mood swings and can also actually leave you feeling hungrier than before. The best way to avoid the detrimental effects of white flour is to choose whole grain varieties.

Refined oils can also have a huge impact on our mood when we include them in our diet. Refined oils contain high levels of trans fat which will increase levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body. These kinds of oils will also cause you to gain weight easily. As they are difficult to digest, you will find your body sapped of energy which will of course leave you feeling unhappy and tired. Choose unrefined oils instead, such as coconut oil, olive oil or flax seed oil. You’ll soon notice the difference in your mood and your health!

Manage Your Sugar Cravings for Optimum Health!

The disadvantages of eating refined sugar are becoming increasingly recognised by health conscious consumers. Far from being something that only causes problems for the dentist, people are now understanding that sugar is responsible for a lot of serious health problems. Research has even shown that sugar can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. For this reason, and many more, it is imperative that we reduce our sugar intake or eradicate it from our diets altogether. Given that so many of the processed foods we eat are laden with sugar, this can prove to be difficult. However, by opting for a plant-based diet you’re much more likely to avoid such foods.

Sugar is a fairly addictive substance to the point where our bodies crave it if you suddenly stop consuming it. This is a temporary and completely manageable sensation and there are several things you can do to help prevent such cravings. Beginning your day with a high protein breakfast is one of the best things that you can do. Between 15 and 20 grams of protein will help to ensure that your blood sugar level stays steady throughout the day. Sugar cravings are much more likely to take hold when your blood sugar levels are fluctuating too high or too low. Continue reading Manage Your Sugar Cravings for Optimum Health!