Image by Jeshu John
Do you suffer from brain fog? Is your memory not as sharp as it could be? Are you stressed?
What you eat, when you eat and how you eat can all impact on your mental health and wellbeing. At the same time stress can influence your food choices.
In these strange COVID times we are all having to make massive adjustments to our lives and this leads to stress. Stress can lead to cravings and maybe, suddenly, our diet isn't looking so good. Add to this more time spent at home with the opportunity to snack and you may find you're not feeling your best.
Making changes to your lunch routine may not seem like it would have an impact on your mental health but small changes add up. So here are a few lunch hacks that are worth a try.
Let’s start with the how…
Support your digestion – let your body know food is on its way.
Working through your lunch break, grazing on a sandwich may seem productive but could leave you with indigestion. Heard the expression we eat with our eyes? The process of choosing and preparing food, taking time to get ready to eat, sends signals from your brain to your stomach.
Your digestive system prepares to receive food, you build up stomach acid ready to digest. If you are focused on a report whilst reaching for a sandwich your digestive system misses those signals. Getting away from your desk, thinking about your meal, could help you absorb more nutrients
Create the right environment.
If you try to eat whilst feeling stressed you are not going to benefit fully from your food. When our fight or flight impulse kicks in it diverts blood flow from our digestive system to our muscles ready to take flight. What does this mean for your lunch break? If you are checking emails and receive an unexpected surprise that sends your adrenaline soaring you just entered fight or flight mode! Taking some time out to chat to colleagues helps you relax and improves digestion.
Get some daylight.
So, this is not so much about eating as how you spend your lunch break. As we head towards winter and the days get shorter we can come to work and go home in the dark. This is bad news for our serotonin production. Natural light helps to boost serotonin (sometimes called a ‘feel good’ or happiness hormone). Getting out for 20 – 30 minutes natural daylight can help give you a boost.
Moving on to when you eat – are meal times important? I would say when you eat is important but the ideal time to eat will differ between individuals.
So, finally a quick word on what to eat. This one is all about balance. As a nation we tend towards carbohydrate rich breakfasts, quite carbohydrate focused lunches and then a more balanced evening meal. We might be getting the right balance of nutrients when we add up across the day but our energy levels could be see-sawing all over the place.
Remember, a Healthy Diet for Physical Health can also support Good Mental Health!
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Registered Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.