The Power of Food

I was mildly depressed for a while this morning. This isn’t like me; I am usually pretty happy, so I was a bit confused about why I was in such a low mood. Here are some things I was thinking/feeling:

  • I wanted to have coffee. I have been “off coffee” for quite a while, because I don’t like how jittery it makes me feel. Now, of all mornings, I was wanting some…
  • I wanted to watch a “comfort show” on TV. I have a show — okay, I’ll admit, it’s Star Trek: The Next Generation — that I like to watch, just to kill time and “to keep me company.” What was odd today is that I never want to watch anything so early in the day. Usually, the Star Trek bug hits in mid-afternoon.
  • I kept thinking about events of yesterday. Yesterday was a good day overall, but there were a few things that I would have liked to go differently. I was rehashing those things and starting to feel really cruddy.
  • In general, I was dissatisfied and discontent. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t feel like knitting or reading anything, which are often things I do in the morning when I’m not too busy. On the whole, I felt like “self-medicating” in some way — I wanted to distract myself with TV, get zipped up with coffee and forget yesterday. I might have even been tempted by booze if there was some around!

Suddenly, I realized what was going on: I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast (unusual for me) and my blood sugar was low. All I’d had was a half a grapefruit and a cup of green tea, which is an okay start to breakfast, but not breakfast, at least not for me. That’s all it was — I wasn’t suffering from depression, there wasn’t anything “wrong with my life,” and I didn’t need anything to “cope.” All I needed was some healthy food and my mood improved greatly.

I share this story in case you ever feel the same! Please, take care of yourself and eat good, healthy food — whatever that means for you, I’m not going to give specifics and say you should never eat this and always eat that. I find I feel the best when I stick to less-processed food, but you eat whatever makes you feel good.

Why Food is so Important

Why does food make such a big difference in our moods? It’s because of how our bodies work. We need energy, in the form of sugar, to think and for our muscles to work. When we don’t have enough sugar in our blood stream, our body releases chemicals, such as the hormone adrenaline, that help to free up stored sugar, but those chemicals don’t make us feel very good. In a way, they are a warning sign for us to go and eat. Adrenaline is meant to give us a boost of superhuman strength for stressful situations, and when we aren’t active, such as when we’re just sitting at a desk, all that energy doesn’t have an outlet. Being active by getting more exercise or playing sports helps (in so many ways), but the root cause is what we are feeding our bodies.

I have a naturopath friend who uses the 100-year rule. She simply asks herself “did they eat this 100 years ago?” If not, then she doesn’t eat it. Fruit roll-ups? Nope. Granola bars? Nope. Oatmeal? Yes. Eggs? Yes. This helps her eliminate a lot of processed foods (granola bars are some of the worst). Another tip is to glance at the ingredients. If most of them are chemicals too long to pronounce, don’t buy it — if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it!

Our bodies are incredible — we can eat almost nothing and go all day. In an emergency, we can survive for days on just water. Be kind to yourself and eat healthy foods, starting with a good breakfast — and as your day unfolds, don’t let yourself to get too hungry/grumpy. If you don’t feel like being kind to yourself, then take a little time to look inside yourself and see if you know why. Are you punishing yourself for something you did? Are you judging yourself harshly? Are you mad about something? Harboring unforgiveness? You may want to re-read chapters 13 – 20 (in Love Your Skeletons) and refocus on gratitude, self-acceptance, and positive things.

Snow Day!

I live in northern Canada, and in stereotypical Canadian weather, we are having a major blizzard today! For those of you who have never experienced a “snow day,” I thought I would share the joy!

Okay, I’ll admit, I have mixed feelings when I wake up, expecting to see the sun in a clear blue sky and instead, it’s gray skies and snowflakes falling down like there’s no tomorrow. But, it is beautiful, and there’s a certain awe and feeling of fun — for me, anyway — when it’s all snowy outside.

But the true beauty of a snow day is that school is canceled! That’s where the joy of snow days originates — when you’re in grade two and it’s a snow day, it’s the best day of your life! For us adults, a snow day is the perfect excuse to just lay low. You can cancel whatever you had planned, and just hang out at home, preferably with a good book and a fire blazing in the wood stove. And even if you have to go out, it’s kind of an adventure too see how bad the roads are, how your vehicle performs and see if you can get to your destination without getting stuck. For kids, it’s the perfect opportunity to go sledding (tobogganing) or make snowmen or snow forts. Hmmm… why don’t we adults make snow forts any more? We should — we would probably be a lot happier if we just played in the snow now and then!

So if you are feeling stressed, let me officially give you permission to take a snow day. Cancel whatever insignificant errands you had planned. Hunker down and get cozy. Treat yourself to something you like to do and pretend you’re all snowed in, wherever you are. 🙂

*Perhaps for some of you, you can replace the word “snow” with “sand” or “surf.” 🙂

We’re All Okay

We all get bogged down in our skeletons sometimes, or even just in the stressers of daily life. Do you ever just want to just feel good again? Or just want it to be over, whatever “it” is?
We all do! We all feel frustrated with our situation or with ourselves at times. Being mad at yourself, or disappointed in yourself, is the toughest place to be. Sometimes we are frustrated because we know we can or should handle things better, and sometimes it’s just because we feel like we aren’t living up to our expectations or goals. And this can really take your self-esteem and self-appreciation down a few notches. Plus, you can’t get away from yourself, although many have tried with the overuse of alcohol and drugs.
We all want to feel that we’re okay. We all doubt, at times, if we’re normal, or if we are a “bad person,” or if we are worthy of anything good in our lives. When things are really pressing on you hard, it’s okay to seek relief, just to want to feel okay. It’s absolutely 100% okay to just wish things were different for a while. It’s absolutely 100% okay to want to just do something for fun, to take your mind off your troubles and help you feel okay. It’s 100% okay to distract yourself sometimes, just to get your mind out of the hole it’s been in. Sometimes that’s the only way to get out of a “funk” — a bad mood that you woke up with or developed over the day that you just can’t seem to shake.
If there is something you enjoy doing strictly for fun, and it isn’t hurtful to you or anyone else, go and do it! If you have a hobby that makes you happy — golfing, knitting, painting, gardening, whatever — make some time today to go and do it for a little while. The world will not fall apart if you stop working for 20 minutes and have fun. You will feel entirely better for taking time out for fun, and it will help you “to feel okay.” You are whole, you just forget it sometimes when you get the blinders on, working with your nose to the grindstone, or spend too much time thinking critically about yourself. You are awesome, you just forget sometimes.