I’m really excited to have Sarah guest posting today. In the last year, I have really seen the transformative and healing power that food can have on the body and this is something Sarah knows first hand. I consider Sarah to be my healthy eating guru and was so happy when she agreed to share her story with my readers.
In 2012, I started having panic attacks on the regular and felt out of control almost 24/7. Once I became plagued with anxiety after these attacks, I thought: “Okay, enough is enough. I need to make a change and it definitely isn’t going to be with medication.” Personally, medication isn’t for me because I didn’t want to deal with the possibility of negative side effects. I wanted to try out eliminating junk from my diet and taking a natural approach to anxiety reduction.
I consulted a registered dietician who started me off by putting me on an elimination diet. Finding out what foods make you feel bad and which foods make you feel great are the first steps.
My “bad mood foods” are:
- refined flour-based foods
- anything containing MSG, sulfites/sulfates
- anything containing caffeine
My “good mood foods” are:
- any kind of raw vegetables
- raw almonds
- peanut butter (by the spoonful!);
- cheese, and
- any kind of food in its natural form, really.
Once I determined what it was that I needed to avoid, it really helped me be more aware of what I was putting in my body and being held accountable by a dietician also helped. I used myfitnesspal to track my food intake, along with my FitBit to track my daily activity. Having to log what you eat, how much water you drink and how much exercise you’re getting definitely shows you what it is you need to give your body to keep it in good (or good enough!) shape.
The silver lining of changing my lifestyle is that I ended up losing 50 pounds. I never anticipated this happening, but once it did, it was exciting! Not only did it help with the anxiety because my heart rate became lower, but it gave me a new sense of self-confidence and made it so that it was a little easier not to sweat the small stuff.
Some tips I have for how to help improve your mood and health, in general:
- It’s not so much ‘what’ you’re eating, as it is being aware of what ingredients are in the things you eat. I live by an 80/20 lifestyle. 80% healthy food and 20% cheat foods. Don’t deny yourself the occasional junk food splurge; just try to make it from scratch or choose an option with fewer preservatives and more ‘whole food’ ingredients. One of my favorites PaleOMG’s Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie. It’s so satisfying, you won’t miss the carbs!
- Making sure you eat often, in smaller amounts, is what helps keep your blood sugar where it needs to be.
- Drinking a lot of water.
- Breathing deeply. (Never underestimate a good breathing exercise, as it helps me diffuse most of my bad feelings in a pinch!)
- Getting enough fresh air and sunshine will brighten any mood.
- Take your vitamins! I take a B50 complex, formulated for stress reduction and this has worked wonders for me. At night, I take a calcium and magnesium supplement along with 1,000iu of vitamin D (2,000iu in the winter!)
- Lastly, don’t worry about things beyond your control. As they say, “que sera, sera.” If you can’t change it then there isn’t any point in putting energy towards worrying about it.
Follow me on Pinterest if you’re interested in what recipes I use to help follow a whole-foods based diet.