HOW TO BE HAPPY – FEED YOURSELF

IMG_6479Coconut flour pancakes with blueberries, Greek yoghurt and honey – recipe here

I am kicking off today with the first happiness foundation tip. Doing this alone will set off a chain of events that will help you to feel better every single day.

The two major reasons I suffered burnout and low mood were over-working and poor diet.

Feeding yourself proper, nutrient packed food and getting adequate sleep is one of your most important jobs. I’m a bitch when I’m hungry and my ability to deal with stress decreases when I’m tired. Seems simple huh? But this is one of the most influential things you can do for your happiness. Starving your body of good fuel and running on no rest is the best way to drop your energy – in this space it is much harder to stay positive. Looking after your body is the number one way to send a signal to yourself that you are loved and cared for and that you have the ability to meet your own needs. It is the first step to showing yourself loving kindness.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

When you are fuelled, you are in a far better space to make good choices. The pre-frontal cortex is a brain region that is responsible for all of our ‘higher-order’ processing. In the world of neuroscience ‘higher order’ processing refers to making decisions, stopping ourselves from engaging in behaviours that don’t serve us, planning and ideas. This brain region is also one of the most energy expensive of them all. Breathing is automatic, but making a decision, or actively stopping yourself from eating the entire bag of chips requires a different level of cognition. So we have to keep ourselves fuelled up to aid this brain region in doing it’s job. Research also suggests that glycogen – the energy source of the brain – is replenished during sleep. I will revisit sleep in a later post as it deserves it’s own limelight.

“In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired” – Author Unknown

By getting enough rest and eating good food, we can fuel our incredible powerhouse – the prefrontal cortex – and are more likely to make better judgements and decisions about our life. We are better able to think clearly and reasonably. And we have more energy for creative ideas and problem solving.

That is why I call this the foundation tip – if you can master this, everything will get easier.

So what active steps can you take to get started?

1) If you wish, you can see a nutritionist and learn more about diet. This can be especially beneficial if you think you may have a food allergy. I have heard of people who experienced problems with low mood who say their lives were transformed just by identifying and reducing a food that was slowing their system down. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”.

2) To begin with, swap out just five meals a week that contain high calorie, low-nutrient food (sugary and processed foods) for foods that are high in nutrients. Find a list of high-nutrient foods here. I keep cooked kumera pieces and hummus with me at work to try avoid potato chips.

3) Hit up Google – there are about a million healthy recipes all over the internet that contain high-nutrient foods. Try a new one each week. I also highly recommend Dr Libby’s Real Food Chef cookbook – it is amazing.

4) Avoid that bottle of vodka in the freezer for four nights of the week (this point was for myself). When reducing my daily alcohol intake, I found it helpful to keep soda and lime in the house which I would have in a wine glass at night. It is also a myth that alcohol helps you sleep. It can make your drowsy, but research suggests it can mess with your sleep cycles.

5) Don’t rush it. You don’t have to overhaul your diet on day one. And actually this may increase your risk of going straight back where you came from. Add good foods in gradually – this way you will slowly change your taste buds and start to crave better food automatically. My mum is still baffled by the fact that I will have a midnight snack of leftover salad. But I absolutely I crave it. Keep in mind, the simple act of cutting down one sugary drink a day, or adding green leafy veges to your dinner is an amazing start. I often use spinach instead of lettuce.

6) Congratulate yourself when you have made it through a week, two weeks, a month with your changes. Treat yourself to something. And if you fall off the wagon, that is just fine too. Say to yourself ‘making change isn’t easy, but I’m doing really great”. This is not another exercise for you to beat up on yourself.

7) Fall off said wagon. Life is not about depriving ourselves completely. If you become inflexible and set yourself too many rules, it is a good way to make yourself unhappy and decrease your chances of making a lasting change. Enjoy your naughty moments, but savour every second of them. When I eat a piece of blue cheese these days I make it a god-like experience. My rule is, when I’m at home and work, I eat really well. If I am heading out for a meal, or to a friends house – I go and enjoy myself.

8) Get into bed just 15 minutes earlier a night.

I will post recipes from time to time that keep me happy and in shape. As I truly believe that food is one of the most important aspects of a healthy life. Nobody ever got anything exceptional done whilst hungry – except Kate Moss.

Resources:

The Bestow Within Natural Food Journals

Younger Skin in 28 Days (amazing nutritional information)

“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.”  – William Londen

Much love XX

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

2 thoughts on “HOW TO BE HAPPY – FEED YOURSELF

  1. I wish more people would take the time to nourish their bodies. Another great post 😉. I got to get me that dr Libby book! Have you checked out mynewroots.org?

    1. Thanks Alaina! So true, if more people did, the world would be a different place I think. Oh my god, that website is gorg. The photography! Can’t wait to have a scout through. Thanks for sharing xx

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