This article is written by Kelly Arbuckle and is taken from the upcoming Great Health Guide (May 2016 – issue 11).
Relax & Revive: How Your Diet Is Affecting Your Ability to Relax written by Kelly Arbuckle
In this day and age of technology, it can be very difficult to find time to ‘unplug.’ When we do get those rare chances to sit down and completely relax, our body as well as our mind needs to be in the correct state in order to properly relax.
One of the biggest constraint to our ability to be able to relax actually comes from what we are eating and drinking, rather than the environment we are in. You could be in the most peaceful location in the world with the sound of water trickling and birds singing, but if your mind and body are agitated, you will not be able to relax.
Poor eating habits are the biggest cause of health problems and are associated with mental issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. Here are some tips on what you should be eating and recommendations on the best ways to eat, in order to obtain a healthy balance for the mind, body and soul.
1. Avoid Stimulants and Alcohol:
Caffeine: Caffeine, like nicotine, is a stimulant to the body and it’s definitely habit-forming. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea and more recently in high energy soft drinks. Experts advise not to consume coffee/caffeine after 3pm to achieve a good night’s sleep. This also applies to the times when you know you are going to be sitting down and relaxing.
Sugar: Sugar, by virtue of its easy digestibility and high glucose content, is a quick source of energy for your cells. It is also a massive stimulant through its ability to over-stimulate brain activity. However sudden highs and lows in blood sugar levels can cause irritability, mood swings and fatigue. When blood sugar levels decrease, this has the added disadvantage of leaving us feeling flat after our ‘sugar high.’
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Alcohol: While many of us will look forward to that glass of wine to help us wind down, we need to be aware that we are actually effecting our cognitive functioning. It is a depressant that alters our perception of our surroundings and changes our emotions. Continual and excessive consumption of alcohol can damage the dendrites, which are the branch-like ends of the brain cells. They pass messages from one neuron to another, so a degradation of the dendrites can cause cognitive problems. Thus becoming ‘tipsy’, sleepy or drunk with alcohol is causing a long term effect on the brain.
2. Avoid processed foods:
Having a diet heavily dependent on processed foods is depriving your body access to natural nutrients. While it is impossible to avoid processed and packaged foods entirely, try to make a conscious effort to incorporate as much fresh and unprocessed foods into your diet as possible. Processed foods are exactly that – processed. They have been refined, processed and packaged. Often they have lost a lot of their nutrients. Processed foods will usually contain added sugars, colorings, synthetic flavorings and preservatives. These are chemicals that your body may be sensitive to and may affect how you feel after eating your meal.
3. Avoid over-eating and eating too quickly:
Over-eating and with an excessive speed of eating is not only the number one cause of obesity but it is affecting the productivity of your digestive system. While we may feel sleepy after eating a big meal, we will not feel relaxed. Ensure that you are eating the correct portion sizes and that you are spending time actually chewing your food properly. It takes your brain ten minutes to register that you have eaten sufficient food. Eating quickly and heavily is not giving your body the chance to digest and process the meal properly. Thus eating your meal too quickly will contribute to overeating.
Ensuring that you have a balanced diet, eating the correct portion sizes and eating at the right speed will help your body fulfill its nutritional need.
Author of this article:
Kelly Arbuckle BA (Psych) has completed of Bachelor of Psychology and has a particular interest in the direct link between poor diets and stress related health issues. Kelly is the CEO, inventor and co-founder of The Waitplate System, a system specifically designed to aid correct eating behavior. She may be contacted through her website.
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