Updated: Oct 19, 2018
by Nina Sabin - Healthy Tip
Did you know food affects you not only physically but also can affect your mental health as well? Each one of us needs food to survive, but it is the type of food we eat that makes the difference in our lives.
How can you choose the right food for you? Some people have food allergies that can affect their digestive system. Other people struggle with additives in food that not only affect them physically but also affect the emotionally. Some people choose to not eat meat, others are vegan and avoid all dairy products as well. Still others struggle with eating too much and have trouble with self-control.
When growing up, we learned in health class that we should eat well-balanced meals. There is a food pyramid to show you how much of each food groups we should eat on a daily basis. The American Heart Association recommends: five servings of vegetables, four servings of fruits, six servings of grains, three servings of dairy (low fat is best), and eight to nine servings of meat per week.
Unfortunately, with our busy life styles we don’t often have time to make a well-balance meal and pick up fast food and eat on the run. Both are bad for the digestive system and mental health. Therefore, now is the time to re-evaluate what you eating, how much you are eating, and how you are eating to see how you can improve your health.
The best way to learn what foods work for you, what foods affect you, and how they affect you is to make a food diary. Yes, it takes time at first, but in the end you will learn what foods are best for you, which in turn will improve your health and “Make a Better You.”
I have begun a food journal because I struggle with digestive issues, which also affects my mood. I struggle with eating foods that don’t agree with me that cause excess gas and bloating, which can be very embarrassing. I already have figured out by journaling that I am gluten sensitive. My digestive tract is affected and cause the following symptoms: bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, constipation, as well as pain in the bones and joints. After doing more research about gluten I learned that it can be severe in some people and can affect their immune system. For others it can affect their brain. Healthline explains that this is called gluten-sensitive idiopathic neuropathy. They also have done research to show that other brain orders respond to a gluten-free diet as well. Patients with Schizophrenia, Autism, and Epilepsy have shown significant improvements when removing gluten.
I also found that removing lactose from my diet has lessened the pain I struggle with in my digestive system. Before doing the diary, I struggled with gas, bloating, stomach pain, and constipation on a regular basis. I have observed when removing gluten and lactose there is a significant improvement.
How did I know I was lactose intolerant? I would eat chocolate, drink milk, or eat cheese and within a few minutes to four hours I would be doubled up in stomach pain and full of gas. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and dairy products that can affect many people in different ways.
Studies have also shown that not only does gluten affect the brain but so does dairy. For some, dairy can make us stressed, anxious, and even cranky. It is one of the most commonly reported, problematic foods when it comes to mood issues. Dairy’s protein, casein, can lead to make it hard for those dealing with addiction, depression, and anger. ‘It has to do with receptors in the gut and brain that react to the casein and create antibodies as a response. This creates symptoms that could even mimic bipolar disorder and create a havoc of stress in the body.’
Keeping a food diary also works for those who over-eat. Keep track of your meals and then try to change your habits to eating the recommended amounts of each food group. See how you can adapt your diet to be more on tract with what would be a healthy well-balanced diet. Often people over-eat due to stress. A better way to deal with that stress is exercise. So the next time you get stressed and want to grab those cookies, instead go outside for a walk. Your body and mind will thank you.
The other reason people over-eat is the food tastes so good, it is hard to know when to stop. Unfortunately, this is how people expand their stomachs and have pain. Remember to eat until you are comfortably full, which is usually eating the recommended serving size, and not eating until your stomach feels so full you can barely move. The good news is: you can save the rest of that delicious meal for the next day – usually, it tastes even better.
God cares about our bodies and minds. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19
Remember, knowing what your body’s needs for food is the best way to “Make a Better You.”
In Health Chat with Nina, please share what foods affect you and how they affect you.