How to Eat More Mindfully
Eating well isn’t just important for feeling our best physically, it’s also a vital tool when it comes to balancing our stress levels and helping us feel our best mentally too. After the downtime offered by that languid period between Christmas and new year, January, with its back to work mentality and energising new year’s resolutions, can often feel a bit of a mental onslaught. To combat the mental fatigue and chaos that can often ensue, it’s important to eat properly. Nutrients that will help contribute to better brain wellness include anti-inflammatory magnesium, B vitamins, antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, quality protein, omega-3s and fibre from complex carbohydrates. Here are our tips on what to eat to boost your zen and help you segue into the new year feeling a little less frazzled.
As well as often being a staple in Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, sweet potatoes are a great dietary staple to keep in your diet year-round. As well as being a good source of magnesium, a mineral that promotes relaxation, sweet potatoes are high in tryptophan, an amino acid noted for its calming abilities and that boosts serotonin, the precursor to melatonin, which is needed for regulating sleep. Better sleep equals less stress and more zen. For extra benefit, scrub the skin but leave it on. The additional fibre is a gut-friendly layer which can have positive effects on overall stress levels and inflammation too.
95% of serotonin is produced in the gut so it makes sense to eat foods that help encourage its production. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids and so are considered nutritional powerhouses, especially when it comes to helping reduce mental fatigue. As well as boosting serotonin levels naturally, omega-3 contributes to proper brain function and reduces inflammation which some experts believe is linked to conditions like anxiety and depression.
Not just great news for your digestion and gut health on their own, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and miso that increase the abundance of good bacteria in the gut will all help contribute to reduced stress levels thanks to their ability to impact elevated cortisol levels. Try and include plenty of different fermented food sources in your daily diet for maximum effect.
It’s the active compound found in turmeric called curcumin that’s especially good for boosting feelings of wellbeing. As well as being potently anti-inflammatory, curcumin is noted for its ability to increase happy hormones in the body such as serotonin and dopamine, promoting that feel-good factor that we all need at this time of year.
Good news for anyone whose sweet tooth hasn’t quite been satiated by festive feasting, dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher) is considered a zen-inducing food thanks to its quota of calming antioxidants which help dampen down inflammation and tryptophan.