How do you feel right now? Check your breath. Is it shallow, taking short, little breaths through your nose? Check your hands and teeth – are they clenched? Check your shoulders – are they tensed up towards your ears? If you answered yes to two […]
When people ask me for shortcuts for getting healthier and feeling better, I tell them two things. Firstly, that there are no shortcuts and health should be lifelong pursuit. Then, once I’ve stepped off my high horse 😎, I tell them to eat more vegetables. […]
Self-care has become a hot topic these day, as people search for a way to keep grounded in what feels like crazy times.
Self-care, as in the act of taking small moments for yourself, in order to uplift, centre and increase energy, is not the selfish act it’s sometimes made out to be.
I had a big watershed moment last summer when I realised that I was doing too much and not taking care of myself enough. It was then I understood how important rest and a sense of peace are to my own self-love, self-care and ability to love others.
For parents especially, we’re guilty of neglecting our own self-care in service to our families, children and loved ones. I’m sure many of you can think of specific moments where you sacrificed something for yourself in order to give to your children, whether it be time, food or emotional energy. That’s par for the game as a parent.
But in order to keep doing that, we need to make sure we keep our own ‘cups’ full. That is, we make sure we are rested enough, nourished enough, energised enough and calm enough to keep giving.
That’s where self-care comes in. And to be clear, this has different manifestations for different people. For some people, self-care is being able to have 20 minutes of extra time in bed in the morning, for others, it could making sure that they can get to their spin class at lunchtime. It could be taking a long bath in the evening or it could be noodling away at a piece of woodworking. It could simply be making the time to feed yourself nourishing food at every meal and eating it in a mindful way.
My self-care routine has evolved over the last few years. Now, for me, it means:
- Being able to do some yoga (even if it’s just 10 minutes with my son jumping through my legs during downward dog) every day
- Lighting my favourite Daylesford candle and enjoying the smell and the flame
- Doing my deep breathing exercises when I feel overwhelmed
- Having a little smooch with my husband
- Having a big belly laugh with my son
- Making meals from scratch at home and making sure there’s always something good to eat in the fridge
What do you do for self-care? Has your routine evolved or changed depending on what’s going on in your life?
Conventional wisdom suggests that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, or about 1.5 – 2L. How much water do you drink a day?
For a lot of people, even drinking a litre of water a day is tricky. When I first my husband, he didn’t drink any water, but insisted that his 8 cups of milky, English Breakfast tea met his daily water requirement. I took me a while to convince him that tea is a diuretic 😳.
One thing to consider is that if you’re already eating a good portion of fruit and vegetables a day, you’ll also be getting the water in the produce, along with the fibre, micro and macronutrients too.
Some fruit and veg contain more water than others.
For example, 1 medium sized apple contains 86% water, whilst a slice of watermelon (the clue’s in the name!) is 97% water. Courgette, radish and celery are 95% water and cauliflower, peppers and spinach are 92% water. To contrast, a banana contains 74% water.
So if you’re eating 7 to 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, do you also need to be drinking 8 glasses of water a day?
As ever, it’s important to consider how you feel on an individual level and listen to what your body is telling you.
In general, if your pee isn’t clear or a light straw colour, then you probably need to up your water intake either through food or water itself. If you’re eating lots of fruit and veg that are high in water content and you’re still thirsty with dark pee, then you probably need to up your water intake. If you’re very active or outside on a hot day, it’s probably worth increasing your water intake.
Just as you can drink too little water and end up dehydrated, you can also drink too much water and end up with something called hyponatremia, where the cells become completely waterlogged, throwing the sodium-potassium balance in the cells off, which can be fatal. So the moral of the story: observe your body’s signs, consider how much fruit and veg you eat a day and tailor your water consumption to your own lifestyle and thirst.
And a note of caution: excess thirst can be a sign of diabetes, so if you’re experiencing this, I highly recommend going to see your GP.
How much water do you drink a day?
This isn’t a trick question! The NHS recommend at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day and a recent study by Imperial College London went all the way up to 10 portions per day. Does that sound like a lot? Let’s put in […]
It’s has only been in the last six months that I’ve properly considered the role that food has played in exacerbating my anxiety.
When I eat badly – too much sugary food, too much bread and pasta – I can feel my anxiety building – that tight, clenched feeling in my belly that causes me to grind my teeth, ball my fists and look for the nearest exit.
Have you made the connection between what you eat and your anxiety? There is growing evidence to support the connection between nutrition and mental health – the connection between dietary quality and mental health.
It seems like a no-brainer: the way you eat affects the way you feel. But like me, it can take a while to make this connection, and once you do, eating well almost feels like a revolutionary act, the act of giving a shit about what you eat and drink and how they make you feel.
We eat three times a day, maybe more. Food is powerful stuff. It’s medicine, it’s nourishment, it’s therapy, it’s the way we fuel ourselves to do what we need to do. When you fill your body full of good stuff, you give it the nutrients – the vitamins, the minerals – it needs to keep you going, but also to keep you feeling good.
A diet lacking in important nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, omega-3s and vitamin B6 can have a knock on effect on mood. It means you won’t be able to produce enough of the feel good hormones like serotonin and melatonin and if you are an anxious person, this can make your symptoms worse.
What do you eat? Have you considered the effects of what you eat and drink and how it effects your emotional and mental wellbeing?
In my usual pre-flight mad dash through the airport, I did a sweep of WH Smith for my standard holiday pile of magazines (I find reading fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar so relaxing on holiday! I don’t really know why, though? 🤔) and […]
I’ve written a bit about anxiety on the blog before, but never really told my own story. Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, here in the UK, it’s time for me to share.
I recently ‘outed’ myself in a consultation with a friend at nutrition school.
She asked to describe how I felt when I felt anxious.
I described a fist clenching, gut wrenching experience, at its worst. A feeling that makes it necessary to prep myself for everyday situations, such as meeting new people, meeting new friends of friends. A feeling that makes it necessary to give myself pep talks to get through situations I would ordinarily be able to manage. A feeling that makes everyday situations seem insurmountable.
I don’t have anxiety, everyday, all day. It’s at its worst when I’m not taking care of myself, when I’m drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, indulging in all of my food cravings. It’s during these times, my anxiety gets better of me and I go into crisis mode.
Over the years, I’ve learnt how to manage it. Eating well and getting enough sleep are key. Eating well to me, means eating at least 7 servings a day of vegetables (especially green leafy and cruciferous veg!) and fruit, adding in some nuts and seeds in different forms, getting good quality protein, mainly meat and some fish. It also means not having much sugar and drinking lots of water, some kombucha and lovely, warming herbal teas.
I’ve discovered recently that alcohol exacerbates my anxiety. Which makes sense, knowing that alcohol depletes vitamin B6, a key vitamin for the production of serotonin, the feel good hormone. I was sad to say goodbye to my evening glass of red wine, but even happier to spend the day on an even keen mentally.
How you manage your anxiety? The more I research, the more I discover. There are so many different tools that folks tend to use, from deep breathing techniques, to CBT, to adding and subtracting food to and from their diet, to taking various supplements.
I supplement with a good women’s multivitamin, an omega-3 fish oil with a good DHA to EPA ratio and magnesium, which helps me relax and ‘unclench’ a little. On the advice of a collegue at school, I’ve recently started supplementing with inositol, a substance produced by plants and animals, that belongs in the B family of vitamins. It helps mood regulation and can reduce anxiety.
Fingers crossed, my cobbled together approach seems to be working well so far. What do you do to manage your anxiety on a day to day basis?
I haven’t felt like writing much about food and nutrition recently. There’s been a lot going on, personally and professionally. New job, a heavier course load at school and loads of political distraction (every morning, I wake up and think, ‘what now?’. Don’t you?). It’s […]
Have you ever done a dry January?
After a heavy November and December, I decided that I needed to give my body a break and get on the wagon for a month. And what better month than January, when everyone’s skint, partied out and needing a bit more time at home.
I also needed to regulate my relationship with alcohol. It’s easy, especially with the UK drinking culture and in a hectic city like London, to use alcohol to relax and let a quick drink after work turn into 3 or 4. Knowing everything I know about the effects alcohol has on the body, it was time to put all of my knowledge into practice for myself. Alcohol is a tricky one for the body – it depletes your B vitamins, which can lead to anxiety and depression, it puts stress on your liver and diverts it from other, more important functions and it can lead to weight gain, poor sleep, spotty skin and dehydration. I decided it was time to take the advice I give to clients in clinic and get a grip on my alcohol intake.
On New Year’s Eve, I drained my last glass of champagne and rang in the new year, ready to kick booze to the curb for a while.
The first few days were hard. No glass of wine at lunch, no cold and crisp G&T while watching TV on the sofa in the evenings. But this was where the foundations for all the hard work of the next month started – breaking the little habits that I had developed and putting better ones in place.
I replaced my red wine and G&Ts with lots of warming cinnamon tea in the evening and sparkling water at lunchtimes. I asked M not to offer me any drinks (except tea or water) in the evenings. I talked about my dry January with my mates, so they knew what I was doing and changed plans to lunch and coffee dates, rather than evening meals, so I wouldn’t be tempted.
By weeks 2 and 3, I started to get in the groove and was enjoying waking up without a hangover and fuzzy brain. My skin was clearer and my jeans a little looser. And the biggest plus? My anxiety levels rapidly decreased.
Last Tuesday 31st January felt great. 31 days without alcohol, a clearer head, deeper sleep at night, more money in my bank account and less anxiety. I decided to carry on through to the end of February, as I have a big nutrition exam at the beginning of March and need all the focus I can get.
What comes after that? I’m not sure. I’d love to be able to get to a place that where I can have one drink and have that be enough. Any advice?