Your Brain on Food

November 21, 2020
Oftentimes we forget: food not only nourishes our body, it also nourishes our mind. It is crucial we feed our minds not only in the way of healthy thinking, but also in the way of healthy food. I use the word “healthy” here in a different context than you may be used to. Healthy (in my view) means learning to have a balanced and positive relationship with food, where the focus is not on what to avoid, but rather, on what you want and what makes you feel your best. This can be complicated and messy when societal norms have led to diets and shaming, with little consideration for someone’s cultural, medical, and personal needs or personal preferences. Things can feel tricky with so much confusing information and input around the topics of food and nutrition. Restriction is praised and food groups are sworn off in the name of health and wellness. I am here to tell you that your needs, and those of your mind and body, are unique to you and you alone, and food to fuel your brain and your body should be viewed through that lens, so that you can focus on feeling your best, inside and out.

Our brain requires an immense amount of energy to keep us moving, working, and growing. It can be mind boggling to know how best to fuel our brains when there is a frenzy of false information about this topic everywhere we turn, whether it be through social media, TV, movies, or family and friends who have their own beliefs about what they swear works best. The truth is that everyone needs something a little different, but at baseline, we all need a combination of nourishing carbohydrates, healthy fats and satisfying protein, which in turn contain all those good for you vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well.

Our brains LOVE carbohydrates! It is the preferred way to ward off the brain fog, fatigue and overall sluggish feelings we can have when we don’t listen to our hunger cues and ignore when our body is directly revealing what it needs. I always suggest opting for whole grains that have the added element of fiber that keeps us feeling fuller and satisfied for longer. In addition to whole grains, including a balance of healthy fats –think avocado and olive oil — along with nourishing protein in whatever form you prefer (beans, fish, meat, etc.,) will ensure that you are supplying your mind with all of the vital nutrients it needs, allowing you the ability to get through the day with clear thinking and the energy you need to do so.

I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, and that balance is key, and in fact vital, to a life less focused on restriction and what to eat, or not to eat, all the time. Understanding that you are allowed to enjoy candy, pasta, chips, doughnuts or that cocktail or glass of wine, without punishing yourself afterwards with a nasty internal dialogue or rigorous exercise, is part of feeding your mind in a healthy way. Yes, eating fruits and vegetables is important, but so is allowing yourself to find joy or comfort in your favorite foods. Cutting out an entire food group (ahem, keto diet), counting calories, or engaging in exercise solely to shrink yourself, is going to take up too much unhealthy space in your brain in the name of “wellness”.

Food freedom is hard to come by, but it is attainable. Life should be lived without guilt or self-punishment and part of living this way is feeding our brains and our bodies thoughtfully, allowing for growth, love, and enjoyment. This goal can be reached by focusing more on what we need, listening to our hunger cues and our wants, versus looking at foods and locking them into categories as solely good or bad. If this topic is hard for you to navigate, and it is for many, I highly suggest reaching out to a registered dietitian who can help you find balance, peace, and joy in a healthy way when it comes to food and nutrition.

So, be kind to your mind, and feed it so that YOU can feel your best.

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent post Sarah! Very important Message!

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    • Thanks so much Drea! I am so glad you like it.

      Reply
  2. Awesome post Sarah!

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    • Thank you so much Christie! I am so happy you read it.

      Reply

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