The Most Powerful Approach to Eating Right Now
Stressing about food is no way to eat – or live! I used to worry about every single bite. Thoughts like, “Will I gain weight? Get sleepy? Crave more carbs?” constantly ran through my anxious mind!
But now, instead of being reactive to my choices, I proactively choose my food depending on my desired mood. (Energized? Nourished? Healthy? Happy?) And I do it with one simple question: “How do I want to feel?” Once I know the answer, I simply cook and eat accordingly!
Since I started doing this, my entire outlook on what to eat has totally transformed. Planning my meals has become purposeful – and fun! And because I am such a believer in this powerful approach to eating, I’m bringing you along, so that you can give it a try, too…
Introducing… the Mood of the Month Series!
Every month for the rest of the year, I’ll share a “mood” with you – and offer ingredient ideas (along with some totally doable lifestyle shifts) that can help you choose how you want to feel. Follow along, and by the time 2019 hits, you won’t ever fret about what food will do to you; instead, you’ll think about what each bite will do for you!
For September, with new routines taking hold, the changing of the seasons, a return to a more ordered lifestyle from summer’s freewheeling breeziness…what better time to feel focused. And that means choosing foods that nourish your brain and keep your mind clear. (Who doesn’t need that?!)
Cut through any mental fog by feeding your body these brain-boosting ingredients and meals:
Healthy Fats Calling all guacamole, nut butter, and fish lovers: this one’s for you! Good-for-you fats are crucial for supporting brain health. So, go ahead and whip up a salad filled with all your favorite power foods, roast a flavorful salmon packed with both omega fatty acids and anti-inflammatory spices, and toss together a dessert chia pudding loaded with omega 3s to support cognitive function and decrease signs of depression. Brain food never tasted (or felt!) so good.
Greens No surprise here: the kale and collards that you know and love also help keep your mental faculties clear and focused. Whip up a colorful kale creation loaded with antioxidants or roll up some rainbow collard wraps to get your green on – and keep your mind razor sharp.
Anti-Inflammatories Bold seasonings make our meals that much more flavorful – and support our focus long after we leave the table. Spices like garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, thyme, and rosemary enliven our cooking and also improve memory, reducing signs of cognitive decline. Try a soothing turmeric latte or an easy breezy Moroccan Sheet Pan Dinner to spice up your life (and supercharge your mind).
Magnesium The “anti-stress mineral” helps you release tension – not to mention sleep better, too. A few of my favorite places to get this serotonin-stimulating superfood? Hemp seeds and – oh, yeah! – chocolate. Sprinkle these nutrient-dense seeds on smoothies or dig into a creamy and decadent cacao (and avocado!) mousse to boost your magnesium intake and feel the stress just melt away so that you can think clearer, too.
Voilà! Your monthly menu is now ready to go! But you need to fuel your focus with more than just what you eat – because how you eat (and don’t eat!) can be critical, too:
Balance Your Blood Sugar One of the key ways to stay sharp and focused all day long is to make sure you get a healthy mix of macronutrients (that’s protein, carbs, and fat) each time you eat – and never wait too long in between meals. Because when you’re hangry (and your blood sugar gets low), it is hard to think clearly – about anything!
Nourish Your Gut As you strive for greater focus, don’t forget to feed your “second brain,” too. I’ve written a lot about the “brain in your belly,” and how keeping your gut happy is directly related to your mind and your mood. Integrate probiotics, fermented foods, and lots of plant fiber into your gut-healing protocol for maximum impact on your focus, too.
Get Moving When you’re not sitting at the table (and you are eating your meals sitting down, right?), you can still boost your brain: stay active, making time each day between meals to move your body. As temperatures drop from their summertime highs, there’s no better time to get outside!
Rest Up And after all that exertion, it’s also crucial to slow down. Getting adequate rest is the only way to fill up on one of my favorite superfoods: sleep! I always say that all the kale, avocado, and quinoa in the world won’t do your body any good if you’re not well-rested. When your body is refreshed, it’s properly equipped to capitalize on all of the focus-fueling nutrients you’ve so carefully chosen and enjoyed.
See how easy (and delicious!) it is to choose your mood, then choose your food? Try it this month for yourself! And stay tuned here, because in October, November, and December, we’ll choose three more moods, then recommend the foods and habits to make them a reality. Until then, let’s stay focused throughout September!
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite focus-fueling food? Let’s inspire each other to take control of our mood with our food by sharing in the comments.
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