I was so inspired after watching the episode of the Smith family’s Red Table Talk where Will calls a family health intervention. If you haven’t watched this episode, click here now to view it!
Are we focused more on the external?
One of the key things that arose in my spirit because of this episode is how so many people think they know what to eat to look a certain way e.g. lose weight; gain weight; gain muscle; have a flat tummy with curvy hips/ butt; have a thigh gap; etc because they are told by family, friends, professionals, the media and so on. But we don’t talk enough about the foods that help us feel good and promote our health from within…never mind about the external. Because as this Red Table Talk episode flagged, someone can look aesthetically pleasing or fit into society’s standards of what “fitness” looks like, but they can still be unhealthy so suffer with e.g. anxiety; constipation; bloating etc.
How many people do you know who look great – but when you look at what they eat, their patterns or the types of foods they eat, they are not inherently healthy? Will Smith for example, talks about how he doesn’t go to the loo for days on end and Willow talks about her battle with anxiety.
I remember that when I started out in the Personal Training space 6 years ago, transitioning out of Law and doing some other jobs that I didn’t enjoy – I looked slim, but I had been dealing with anxiety; migraines; severe bloating and stomach cramps due to stress.
It was only until I learnt how to deal with the inside first through my nutrition, that I started to be relieved of these conditions and feel healthy from within. That is one of the reasons Fitness To A Tee has the online, signature Flat Tummy programs because I help my clients worldwide deal with what’s happening in the inside, including their emotions and also externally through healthy and life sustainable nutrition and exercise habits. The emotional side can also include referrals to counsellors or other professionals in the Wellness space.
In the last month, I have been publishing the Secrets to a Flatter Tummy video series which examines what actually happens on a biological level inside our bodies when we are getting various conditions such as anxiety; diabetes; high blood pressure; expanding waistlines; bloated tummies etc worldwide.
Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue globally
You can look at this lack of awareness on how to be healthier from within, together with the statistics of the rising of people worldwide who suffer from anxiety. Just to give you a few statistics, the website Our World in Data states that out of approximately 7.7 billion people globally, 284 million suffer from anxiety disorders, making anxiety the most prevalent amongst the mental health disorders. Some people suffer from chronic, consistent anxiety and some have it periodically.
This is bearing in mind that anxiety is also arguably grossly under reported across the world – particularly when you consider how in some cultures such as in my African culture, it is often stigmatised or down played so many would not speak up or even know that they have it.
In writing this post, I’m talking from personal experience as well as from the experience of some friends; family members and Fitness To A Tee clients. I have anxiety which was diagnosed a few years ago and was at its height most recently during my separation with my husband; and then post-separation. Mine was only diagnosed a few years ago, when I probably actually had it from before or when my mother passed away in 2010. It has been under good control for a while now.
In being open about my own battle with it, I hope to encourage someone out there that they are not alone and to help others to deal with it. Open conversation sustains and saves lives.
Exercise and then food in particular, have been the biggest factors in helping myself and the clients I serve who have anxiety – manage it, because food is medicine. Food is not just food – it interacts and affects our cells, so it only makes sense that the types of food we take in would either worsen; reduce the effects or heal it.
Below are a list of key foods that have helped not only myself, but those I work with beat the effects of anxiety and live a more fulfilling life where you feel healthier from within. When the inside is healthy and nourished, then naturally the aesthetic benefits will follow. Looking after our internal and external environment is true holistic health.
Freshly made smoothies and juices are wonderful to beat anxiety because you can include your choice of vegetables and/or fruits, which all have a range of nutrients to support our bodies.
You can also add things like cacao powder which is in the smoothie in the image above. Cacao is well known for its mood-boosting properties, along with providing energy and tons of antioxidants.
Fresh salads & greens
Fresh salads are much the same as smoothies in their nutrient giving qualities. The greener the salad the better, so you can add vegetables such as spinach; kale; rocket; green beans etc.
Green vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense type of vegetables on the planet so they are packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants to help your cells flourish.
There are so many benefits to having sweet potato, which is a wholegrain carbohydrate if you have anxiety. There are so many diets out there that restrict carbs, but our body’s organs need them to function, including our brain. They also provide us with a slow release of energy into the bloodstream (as opposed to white, refined and processed carbs such as white potatoes) so that you have strength to get through the day.
Wholegrains including sweet potato also have a type of amino acid that makes your body produce the happy chemical called serotonin. Serotonin helps to calm your mind, boost your mood, and steady your sleep patterns.
Brown and other types of wholegrain rice
The same benefits which apply to sweet potato apply to wholegrain rice.
Pink himalayan salt
Spices, some salts and herbs are easy to incorporate into your daily eating as you can use them to flavour rice; meats/fish and/or vegetables.
Ones that are particularly beneficial for beating anxiety are for example, pink himalayan salt. This is great because its many minerals help to detoxify the body; give a better balance of pH in the body (see Episodes 1 and 2 of Secrets to a flatter tummy to understand the pH balance in the body); improve hydration (essential as we are mainly made of water); help the intestines absorb nutrients and much more.
Apple cider vinegar (see image above)
I love using acv in salads; gravies and even over oven-roasted sweet potato chips. Not only does it help with reducing bloating i.e. you can have a spoonful in a glass of water each night before bed, it also helps the body release the “happy” chemical serotonin.
Lactose free milks
By lactose free milks, I’m referring to dairy free milks such as coconut; rice;oat; goat; soy; almond etc. There is a massive debate on whether dairy is good for us or not.
On a personal and professional level, I sit on the side of saying it’s not the best for reducing the effects of anxiety. This is because countless people get bloated from it, plus I agree with the argument that if it’s not your mother’s milk – it probably isn’t for us as humans.
Instead of having coffee, reduce or eliminate coffee because caffeine is more likely to increase anxiety due to the caffeine which can raises the incidence of fast heartbeats; muscle tremors and irritability.
Coffee also increases acidity in the body which leads to inflammation. Inflammation causes 95% of the conditions we face nowadays including anxiety. To understand acidity in the body, watch episode 1 of Secrets to a Flatter Tummy by clicking here now.
Any herbal tea is good for reducing the effects of anxiety such as nettle, dandelion and chamomile. These type of teas act as diuretics which thus help to flush away toxins; plus help your mind and body to relax.
Fish is great as it has amongst other things, omega 3 fatty acids which help the body to circulate the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the mineral zinc, which is important for brain and nerve development. Interestingly enough, the largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the parts of the brain involved with emotions.
So there you have it…food is one of the biggest tools you can use to reduce your anxiety! After all, you are (and in this case…will feel) what you eat.
To book in for a free, initial 20 minutes consult to help you talk through a sustainable Fitness To A Tee meal plan to support you with your individual health goals, contact me via the website by clicking here now.
Chat to you soon!
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