Do you dread the week before your period? How much do you dread it? I used to count down the days, waiting for the familiar aches in my back, bloated belly and throughly grumpymood. I used to think all women suffered this way and that […]
It goes without saying, but of course I’ll say it anyway: Everyone’s anxiety manifests in different ways and you might be that unicorn that reads this and says, eh, this isn’t relevant to me. Great! I applaud you!
For everyone else: let’s have a good chat about alcohol and anxiety.
Are you like me and had to learn the hard way about the effects of alcohol on your anxiety? Or are you still in the mindset of “oh, it’s just a few drinks. I’ll be fine”. Then you wake up the next day with the fear, which you call a ‘hangover’. And the ‘fear’ lasts a few more days than you thought it would. Or you drink a couple days in a row because you feel fine after the first night, but then feel dreadful after the second. Whatever your relationship is with alcohol, there’s a strong connection between what alcohol does to your body and anxiety.
The way we tend to (binge) drink in the UK exacerbates anxiety as a growing public health issue. Did you know that in the UK, 1 in 6 adults have experienced some sort of neurotic health problem in the past week? And many people turn to drink to help them deal with their anxiety, which creates a vicious cycle of worsening anxiety, which for some people, requires more alcohol to cope with.
Let’s get technical for a second: alcohol depletes the body of vitamin B6, a micronutrient that is very important for the production of serotonin, the happy hormone that helps regulate our moods and keeps us on an even keel.
Weekend binge drinking, the glass or two of wine every night, the 3 or 4 beers after the footy, all deplete vitamin B6. This depletion has an impact on serotonin production. And here’s the thing: when you produce less serotonin, your body downregulates its production, because it thinks you don’t need as much. Which creates a vicious cycle, which gets worse the more you drink.
So what can you do?
Let me go ahead and state the obvious: if your anxiety is crippling, just don’t drink. I’ve been trying this recently, it has helped a lot. If that’s not an option, drink less and don’t binge drink.
Eat vitamin B6 foods. B6 is a water soluble vitamin, which means it gets flushed quickly from the body, so you need to continually top up your reserves. Having these foods on a regular basis is a great way to top up your vitamin B6 levels: organic, grass fed red meat, spinach, sweet potato, free-range organic chicken, bananas, avocados, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Eat tryptophan foods. Almonds, free-range, organic poultry, wild salmon, organic, free-range dairy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds all contain high levels of tryptophan. Notice the crossover between these foods and vitamin B6 foods?
Find alcohol alternatives so you can still be apart of the round. Seedlip is a great brand that recently launched in the UK.
Explain to your friends why you’re not drinking and ask for their support on nights out. And real talk: If they don’t get it, are they really a friend?
How has alcohol affected your anxiety?
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 […]
For the last four years, I’ve had the weirdest bit of joint inflammation in my right index finger. It gets worse when I’m tired, eating poorly and drinking too much alcohol. I never thought about it too much and just chalked it up to a bit of arthritis, unless it was accidentally pushed or I needed to open a jar.
Last year, I went to see a naturopath at my college for some general coaching. I happened to mention my ‘dicky’ finger to her and she recommended taking two Pukka Wholistic Turmeric capsules in the morning for a few months to see if that made any difference.
And you know what, the capsules made a little difference. I started to wonder if there was more I could do, so started looking into ways of eating and drinking the raw turmeric root. Turmeric root has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and liver detoxification properties through its active compound curcumin, which is why you might have noticed more chatter about this plant in the last year. Research has shown that curcumin from turmeric in its food form is more bioavailable, especially consumed with a pinch of black pepper.
So I decided to start drinking a turmeric tonic in the morning to see if I could relieve some more of the sore feeling in my ‘dicky’ finger. After many trial runs, here’s the recipe I use every week.
This tonic has made a huge difference to my finger – to the point where I notice when I’ve forgotten to have my shot of tonic in the morning. Try it!
NB: please avoid this drink if you are on blood thinners, as turmeric and blood thinning medication can cause excess bleeding.
What you need
1 grapefruit (exclude this if you are any medication as grapefruit contains naringenin, a phytonutrient that can interfere with CYP450, an important family of enzymes that help break down toxins in phase I liver detoxification. This can cause adverse reactions to medication.)
1 orange, if you need to exclude the grapefruit
2-3 thumbs of fresh turmeric root
1 thumb of fresh ginger
1 tbsp raw organic honey
200mL filtered water
Large blender cup / Nutribullet cup
How to make it
1. Cut the citrus fruits in half and squeeze the juice into your blender or Nutribullet cup. Take care to remove the seeds, but to keep the pulp.
2. Wash the turmeric and ginger and drop them in with your citrus juice.
3. Add the honey, black pepper and water.
4. Blend for at least 30 seconds and decant into a glass storage jar.
5. Drink a shot’s worth each morning.
6. Keeps in the fridge for 7 days (if it lasts that long!).
Seriously though. I know people get touchy about this subject, but let’s all be grown ups and have some real talk about the importance of regular bowel movements. A lecturer recently mentioned that the optimum number is three – once after every meal! Ideally, you […]
Have you ever used ghee? Ghee, a clarified butter, is known as ‘liquid gold’ in some South Asian cultures because it comes from the revered cow. The process of making ghee removes the milk solids and water and leaves you with lovely golden liquid that solidifies as it goes to room temperature.
I started using ghee a few years ago when I started eating paleo. It’s a very versatile fat with an exceptionally high smoke point, which means that it’s great for high temperature cooking – frying, grilling, searing, etc.
My bug bear with ghee is that organic, grass-fed versions can be very expensive. Last week, I was chatting with my mother and she mentioned that she wanted to try making it herself, and I thought, hmmm, why don’t I try it as well. And what do you know, it was so easy that I’ll be making my own from now on!
What you need:
2 blocks of unsalted grass-fed butter
A cast iron pan
A ceramic bowl
Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
A large glass jar to store the ghee
How to make it:
1. Place your cast iron pan onto the stove and put the burner on medium heat.
2. Place the two blocks of unsalted butter into the pan.
3. As the blocks melt, the milk solids will rise to the top. When the blocks have completely melted and the liquid starts to bubble, turn the heat off. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
4. Use your ladle to pass the liquid through the strainer, with the ceramic bowl underneath to catch the ghee. If you end up using a fine mesh strainer rather than a cheesecloth, you may need to strain the mixture twice to completely remove all of the milk solids. Once this step is complete, you should be left with beautiful golden ghee.
5. Let the ghee cool for a few minutes before pouring into your glass container. Stored in the fridge, where the ghee will solidify, it should last for at least a month, if you use clean utensils when cooking with it.
P.S. When I was making this, I wondered what I should do with the leftover milk solids. I did some quick Googling and found that some people save them and crumble them onto their morning porridge, brown them to add a lovely buttery taste to stewed fruit, pancakes or anything else you would normally use butter in. Some people even spread the milk solids onto toast!
Anxiety seems to be a growing problem these days, especially amongst young people. Various pressures – societal, economic, physical, technological, emotional, political – mean that people are being pulled in many directions, increasing their day to day anxiety and decreasing their ability to cope. When […]
Aside from their significance as a major plot point in the Harrison Ford – Rachel McAdams film, Morning Glory, frittatas are one of those recipes that everyone seems to have their own little twist on. And why not? Their versatility means that even the newest […]
So it’s that time of the year again. Resolution time. Do you make resolutions? As a student nutritionist, I often hear people making resolutions to ‘do better’ with food, to eat healthier, to ‘be good’. These resolutions often come with a huge side of guilt. Guilt and shame.
Let’s stop all of this.
These boom-bust, famine-feast attitudes towards food are robbing us of the pleasure of eating.
There are no ‘bad’ foods. There are foods that are better than others, absolutely. And this will vary for each person. For every person that can eat a slice of cake in ‘moderation’, there’s another person that cannot.
The only thing that’s bad, is a guilty attitude around food that undercuts the true pleasure you can get from eating. This pleasure can come from biting into a crisp piece of celery with creamy peanut butter, to the umami taste in a steaming bowl of ramen. I love the pleasure of really savouring food, enjoying the taste, smell, look, mouthfeel and of course, that lovely warm feeling at the end of a meal when I know I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve eaten.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the pleasure of eating should ideally last from the moment of anticipation when you first put the food into your mouth through to the lovely feeling of satiety when you’ve finished the meal. If there’s a disconnect, then the pleasure becomes bittersweet, doesn’t it? I love eating ice cream, but it’s just not worth the hours I’ll spend afterwards running back and forth to the loo.
So ditch the short-term resolutions and start thinking about a long-term change in attitude toward food and eating instead.
And get rid of the guilt. Enjoy the food you do eat and find pleasure in the making and eating of your meals.
At this time of the year, newspapers and magazines are filled with weight loss, fitness and detox stories. And I’ll admit, I do enjoy reading them and seeing what nutrition & exercise (mis)information is being passed around. One of my biggest gripes is seeing articles […]
People like shortcuts. Maybe it’s a symptom of our modern world, where we can get pretty much anything we want at the touch of a button.
Speaking of shortcuts, I’m often asked by friends, family and colleagues about the fastest ways to get healthy / fit / more energy (delete as appropriate).
There are two answers I always give, no matter what their underlying symptoms. Then I ask more questions and give a more detailed, tailored response.
The first answer is always – get more sleep or go to bed earlier.
I’ve talked about the benefits of sleep before – it regulates your metabolism, allows your various organs to repair and heal and allows your brain to process the events of the day. Don’t give into the current masochism around sleep – most people really need at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night to be fully functional.
And then my second answer is always – eat more fresh vegetables, especially green leafy ones.
I cannot overstate that vegetables are little nutrition powerhouses! Each vegetable has many individual benefits, with its own mix of macronutrients (protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates) and phytonutrients.
The greater the variety in your vegetable intake, the more benefit to you. When in doubt, just eat the rainbow!
Ideally, everyone would eat at least 5-7 servings of vegetables a day. I know that’s hard, so you’ll often hear nutritionists,(including me!) say to prioritise cruciferous / brassica vegetables. You know them as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale, brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, radish, bok choy and watercress.
Not only are they high in antioxidants like vitamins A and C, they are also high in folic acid and vitamin K and have a huge amount of minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
Cruciferous vegetables are also high in phytonutrients like glucosinolates which support your liver in clearing excess hormones, alcohol, xenoestrogens and environmental chemicals.
So, adding a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie after a big night out will help your liver clear the alcohol from your system and make your feel better a bit faster!
In a nutshell, adding more cruciferous vegetables into your diet can help you boost your energy levels, support your liver, balance your hormones, support your immune system and feed the good bacteria in your gut!
There are lots of ways to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet:
Add a big handful of kale to your morning smoothie
Make a big pot of soup with broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower
Make a big a*s salad with loads of different veggies in it
Grate up some cabbage for a coleslaw
Make a big tray of roasted veg
Steam some asparagus and eat them with hummus as a snack
How do you eat your veggies?