Are Your Food Choices Affecting Your Mood?

Food & Mood

 

Did You Know – Food has a powerful influence over mood, both to your advantage and disadvantage.

 

Your food can assist you to become more happy and healthy, or your food can undermine your health and well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Food used to be something we ate to give strength and vitality to our bodies, to heal us when we were sick and to satisfy an appetite after doing meaningful work. Now food is produced for profit and instead of being eaten when we are physically hungry, food is now consumed to satisfy artificial cravings. We eat, but we are rarely satisfied, only full.

Food changes chemicals in the body and brain, affecting mood and behavior. It is impossible to be contented and emotionally stable while poisoning your body and brain with artificial and adulterated ‘food’. Present day research and experience are proving without a doubt that there is a connection between what we eat and how we think, feel and behave. Improving your physical diet can reduce stress levels, anger and anxiety.

Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, eggs, lean meat and oily fish, for instance, is associated with a reduction in mood swings, depression and anxiety. Eating these foods can help maintain a steady blood-sugar level, which also helps to stabilize mood. Your mood also affects the foods you choose.

People in a negative frame of mind are more likely to choose sugary, fatty, processed and salty indulgence or comfort foods, rather than Life Enhancing ones. Sugar leads to fluctuations in blood sugar, which can bring on mood swings and the Sugar Blues. Sugar, though sometimes a short term fix, encourages poor mental and emotional health. Sugar, carbohydrate and processed food consumption also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain, and mood.

A high-quality source of protein – like organic eggs, sardines or a handful of almonds (preferably presoaked to unlock the enzyme inhibitors)– helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady for enhanced energy and mood.

Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think, feel and behave. They can be affected by what we’ve eaten. We are becoming more and more aware of the Gut/Brain connection and know that eating traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods are the best route to optimal digestive health.
Bananas contain dopamine, a natural reward chemical that boosts your mood.

Magnesium, found in pumpkin seeds, almonds and leafy greens, is a calming mineral that gets depleted when we’re stressed.

Leafy greens, legumes, nuts and eggs: These types of foods are packed with vitamin B, which helps to create neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which calms and reduces anxiety.

Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate, is probably the most widely used behaviour-modifying drug in the world. We often choose to drink it if we are feeling tired and irritable, because it can give us a boost and help us to concentrate.

My main philosophy about what to eat and what to avoid is quite simple. If man has created, enhanced or adulterated a food in any way, then I greatly reduce my consumption of these foods or avoid them altogether. The chances are the molecular structure of the original food has changed due to high heat, forced pressure or some other unnatural process or procedure so our bodies no longer recognizes it as food. This is how some food allergies are created. I prefer to eat foods created by nature, as nature intended.

And last but by no means least is Water. Dehydration can contribute to poor concentration, low energy, and poor mood, so try to drink plenty of water every day and stay hydrated.

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Life’s Victim

Life's-VictimThe following is a poem I wrote nearly 20 years ago about an aspect of life I observed around me.

Life’s Victim

Do I choose to be sad?
Do I choose to be bad?
No not I,
Why do you think I cry?

“It is the world out there
That is making me go spare.
It wont leave me alone
Until my spirit has flown
And I am left all alone
Just another clone.”

You wonder why I despair,
It really isn’t fair,
The world is a frightening place,
Just leave me alone to save face.

Why can’t I have a break
So I can stop being fake.
To stand on my own two feet
Is something I secretly seek
If only I had a choice . . . . . .
If only I could find my true voice . . . .

Do I really choose to be Life’s victim?

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Gratitude v’s Over Consuming

ContentmentDiscontent opens us to many unhealthy and unhelpful habits in our lives. Our culture encourages discontent through marketing/adverising, competition, education systems, hierarchy etc. Advertisers foster this sense of dissatisfaction and discontent, promising greater satisfaction with whatever it is they are marketing.

Discontent creates a feeling of insufficiency and emptiness within us that needs satisfying and filling up. Wanting more, more, more, better, different; we look to ‘stuff’ to fill us up. Over consuming resources is a result.

But it’s not the conditions of our lives that make us unhappy and discontent, but our choice of thoughts about it, our attitude and behaviors. When we are discontented and unhappy, we are focused on all that isn’t right, all that is missing, all that needs to be Better for us to experience contentment and happiness. We are predominantly focused on the seeming lacks and things that aren’t good enough or right enough in ourselves and our lives.

Gratitude is the path to contentment.

Gratitude is an Attitude. An attitude of gratitude is the best attitude to have. It has little to do with circumstances.

Gratitude is the feeling and expression of thankfulness. While being grateful, our attention is on what we already have and helps us appreciate them more. It reminds us of all the good things already in our lives, no matter how small they may at first appear. And at the same time our attention is away from the idea of things not being good enough, right enough, just not enough! or missing in ourselves and our lives.

Gratitude Turns What we Have into Enough.

Gratitude has the power to turn a negative into a positive, a problem into an opportunity, or a lack into an asset. By finding a way to be thankful for our troubles, they can become our blessings. We are reminded that every cloud has a silver lining. And that the sun never stops shining, it just hides behind the clouds for a while, so we can appreciate it even more when the cloud has moved on.

There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is only the fact that there is air to breathe. Gratitude reminds us what’s important. The simple act of saying “thank you” can help create happiness and contentment in the giver and the receiver.

Gratitude costs little and gives much. Think of all the things, experiences and people you’re thankful for, and thank them silently. The more you practice this, the more you will find to be grateful for. Practice telling yourself positive, empowering things about what you are doing and who you are. The change in how you feel and your life will amaze you!

If you find yourself unhappy and discontented with someone or something, Stop, take a slow deep breath or three, gently turn the corners of your mouth up, soften your gaze and relax. Just Breathe and Smile for awhile. When you take the time to breathe, and smile, it can change how you feel and your outlook on life. Try it and feel the difference.

Grateful People are Happier, more Content People.

Grateful people consistently report increased feelings of well-being, better health, naturally healthier lifestyles, increased optimism, and a more positive outlook on life.

And that being the case, maybe Gratitude is the only thing we really need more of.

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Less Money, More Freedom

RidingHave you ever heard it said or written that, “Money is an illusion, who’s only value is that which we agree to.”

Other than the value we give it, it really is just coloured bits of paper and tiny metal disks.

That being said, most of us are tied to the ‘game’ of money (me included) and the financial economy, so we are bound by the rules of the game, but we don’t need to be a slave to it.

Here are some steps we can take now, that will allow us to loosen these ties and gain more freedom, balance and control in our lives.

Create a Freedom fund – or a semi-retirement fund, or a moving off-grid fund – Put the money saved into a bank account or somewhere safe and leave it alone. Forget it’s there.

Reduce Your Expenses
– Cut out the bills that are not really needed or essential.
– See where utility bills can be reduced, by being more aware of their usage.
– Make a point of only spending what you have the cash for. If you don’t have the cash for it, you probably don’t need it. If you do feel you need it, be creative and think outside the box.
– Let go of satellite or cable TV. There are many other things you can do with the time that will be even more rewarding.
– Drive less by combining errands into one trip or car sharing.

Save Money on Food – You can save money by not eating out often, and that includes those small items which add up over the course of a month ie coffee at your local coffee shop, candy bars, snacks, fast or convenience food, and drinks. Not only are they bad for your health and well-being, they cost you more money than you first think. Learn to think ahead, prepare and cook your own nutritious food.

Sell what isn’t necessary to your life now – You know, that shed out back, spare room or closet that’s full of stuff you no longer use. If you haven’t used it in six months to a year, chances are you aren’t going to use it and so it is just clutter. Even if you can only sell the item for a dollar or five, that money can add to savings or go towards something you need now. That is better than collecting dust and using up space.

Grow Your Own Food – Read up and learn how to grow your own food in pots or in your own backyard. Start small, increasing as your skills and successes increase.

DIY and BYO – From herbal remedies, safe homemade cleaning products, changing your own tap washers to cutting your family’s hair or changing the oil in the car, learning to DIY can save you more money than you expect. There are plenty of free resources (ie YouTube and the internet) to show you how to do many different things yourself. Bringing your own (BYO) wine to a restaurant or thermos of coffee and sandwiches on an outing can mean you get more for your dollar.

Trade time and Skills – Acknowledge or brush up on your existing skills or learn new skills that you’ve always wanted to learn. You can then share or trade skills with others. If your main skill is time then you can share or trade that. These are all valuable commodities.

Slow down in the Laundry – It seems so normal these days to throw clothes in the wash after one wear, whether they need it or not. And then to just put them in the dryer, rather than hanging them out. There are great freshening and sanitizing qualities in hanging clothes outside to dry in the sun and wind. Plus it saves lots of money.

The less money you need to live your life, the less you are tied to the money ‘game’.

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The Hippie Legacy

images5The counterculture, labeled “The Hippie Movement”, radically shaped the world we have today and made everyday life more colorful, diverse, open and accepting. Hippies embraced change faster than society could integrate, which caused many tensions and much conflict.

The Hippie Culture began in the 1960s as the Baby Boom Generation was maturing into their teens. Often those who became a Hippie came from ‘well off’ families, but were tired of the oppressive restrictions put on them by society and their conservative parents. They were tired of conforming and began to express themselves in radical ways. They expressed disillusionment with the growing commercialism and by a world being poisoned with chemicals and obsessed with consuming. They often even rejected wearing shoes preferring the freedom of bare feet and the connectedness to the earth this bought. Hippies didn’t care much about money and worked for the ‘establishment’ as little as possible. Instead, many of them shared what they had and lived together in groups, while others just lived naturally & frugally by choice.

Hippies sought to free themselves and find new meaning in life. In their quest for the most natural way of living they tended to reject manufactured food, clothing and products, preferring healthier, more natural alternatives. Hippies believed the dominant mainstream culture was corrupt and inherently flawed and sought to replace it with a Utopian society.

The culture of Hippies was unlike anything people had seen before. They focused their lives around the ideas of peace, love, freedom, and living life to the fullest. To heighten their experiences spiritually and physically, many hippies used hallucinogenic drugs and sex.

There can be no discussion about the Hippie movement without a mention of drugs and free sex. Drug use and illicit or ‘free sex’ were common behind closed doors prior to the Hippie Movement, the Hippies didn’t invent them, they just bought them out of hiding and secrecy, and into the open.

They lived peaceful lives and believed that living together in harmony was possible and necessary. Because of this, they strongly opposed violence, and in particular, the Vietnam War; opposing the lack of freedom to choose to go to war or not.

images4Hippies experimented with living in new ways together. The idea was to live a simple, more natural life. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to. They used candles, saved water, played music, experimented with many art forms, grew their own food and sold or shared their resources. Hippies did not want to be in a job they hated for 40 years to pay off a mortgage or to keep up appearances.

It was a time for questioning the status quo, and questioning the way our culture was being guided to go – not something that was greeted with open arms by a conforming conservative culture. They believed that the government was at the root of this and many other evils in society at the time. Due to this belief in particular, many officials and authorities felt threatened by the presence and radical ideas expressed by the Hippie culture and saw them as a danger to society as they wanted it. Many authorities felt threatened by their presence, so spent a lot of time and effort publicly discrediting them and squashing them as soon as possible. The ‘straight’ culture saw them as a freak of society, and reacted strongly to this defiance of the status quo as well.

By the 1980’s the Hippie culture was all but reduced to a few. The pull of conformity, commercialism and dependence over all seemed to have won the day.

But many aspects of the Hippie Culture were assimilated into the mainstream culture. The Hippie movement did change the way many people viewed life, even if they decided against wearing flowers in their hair, going bare foot and handing flowers out as symbols of peace. The Hippie Movement morphed into the peoples personal ‘Green Movement’, environmentalism, sustainability, nonviolence and social justice concerns.

People’s memory and experience of that time may differ, but we can’t deny the good that came from it. I for one loved it. I have fond memories of the colour, the music and free spiritedness. I loved the vibrancy and the acceptance of life as a whole. I didn’t feel the need to experiment with drugs but did enjoy the feelings of hope and the freedom to express an inner aliveness.

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Distractions

100_1216This is the Information age, but along with all the good this brings, there is also a darker side.

Our modern world has become a constant source of information and entertainment, distractions. We take our phones with us everywhere we go to stay connected to the cyber world – connected 24/7 to internet, emails, messaging, and information.

Then there is the bombardment of advertisements nearly everywhere we look – telephone, internet, radio, tv, billboards, newspapers, magazines, movies, sports fields . . . the list is almost endless.

Entertainment is also available 24/7 – movies, internet games, clubs & pubs . . . Each enter our mind and gain control of our attention and resources. We no longer need to listen to our own inner messages or think for ourselves. As we are ‘entertained’ and told what to ‘know’, what to think and do continually, an intentional life becomes a distant memory. Actually, for some, I think an intentional life just feels too hard.

The urge to check up on our Facebook friends steals more of our time than the friends right in front of us. Constantly checking emails, messages, missed phone calls and even just in case we missed ‘Something’, ‘Anything’.

The overload of trivial and unnecessary information distractions, may pull our attention from the life right in front of us, or keep us from realizing the life we truly desire … and yet, these distractions go virtually unnoticed for what they are. They are seen as necessary, important and normal, rather than the addictive habit they become – a distraction from anything authentic and real.

All around us, nearly every moment of the day, messages are battling for space in our minds. They are promoting products, information, ‘entertainment’ and ‘educating’ us on our lives and how to live them. Our lives go un-investigated and un-evaluated. As a result, we are lured by them away from any true significance in our lives. And our greatest needs and desires go unmet.

Advertisers foster a sense of dissatisfaction by promising greater happiness with their products. And because we are so used to giving our attention away, we easily fall pray to their message without even realizing it. Like all the other distractions, they start to feel real. Materialism is, after all, a natural behavior born out of discontent with who we are and the image we think we project. It is discontent that opens up our heart to many of the unhealthy habits and distractions in our lives.

Often times, the things we own can end up owning us and become yet another distraction to our lives. We spend time and money researching them, purchasing them, organizing them, cleaning them, fixing them, discarding them, and replacing them – not to mention acquiring the money to purchase them, house them, maintain them, take care of them and ultimately replace them.

But, thankfully there are ways out of the distraction dilemma.

An Attitude of Gratitude

If discontent is the cause of many of our unhealthy habits and distractions, contentment is the cure. Gratitude is the feeling and expression of thankfulness for who we are and what we have right now, opening the door to contentment. It causes us to focus on the good things we already have regardless of our present circumstances, improving our well-being in almost every regard.

Moments with yourself

Next time you desire to make a purchase, check Facebook, work late, or engage in a habit that controls you . . . pause. Begin to practice moments of solitude away from the distractions of this world. The more you cultivate this practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. And the more comfortable you become with it, the more you’ll allow this silence to reveal your true hearts desires.

Getting Clear

Every so often, you need to slow down long enough to notice the focus of your life. With your attention and focus you create yourself and your life. Get clear about what matters to you most, what your true needs are and what your core values are. Build a solid foundation of what is true for you, to live your life from.

Happy and content people are clear about what truly matters to them and they return to it again and again, day after day. They base all of their thoughts, words, and actions from this foundation.

If we give our attention and focus away, there is none left for us to notice and run our own lives.

Allow yourself to dream and be who you were born to be. Then set small, achievable goals to move towards that.

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What is a Simple Life?

100_0622Some people still think that to choose Voluntary Simplicity means turning into a Hippie, with flowers in your hair, no shoes, and perhaps even living in a commune somewhere; Or living in a cave, renouncing all creature comforts, and rejecting modern life. But far from glorifying poverty, the simple life is simply a life of fewer material possessions and less consumption – it’s as simple as that. And less stuff and consumption translates to more Life.

The simple life is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much consumption and ‘stuff’ is truly enough.

Leonardo da Vinci: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’

The idea of living simply isn’t new. The benefits of moderation have been central to most ancient wisdom and spiritual traditions throughout history, and to many of the Indigenous peoples around the world. Simplicity is an empowering expression of freedom, where we let ourselves be happy and content with the virtues of a seemingly ordinary life.

A Consumer culture might be booming financially/economically, but dedicating too much time and attention to consumption and acquisition of wealth, to the detriment of family, community, and the greater environment. It can distract us from what is needed for healthy, whole lives, and functions to keep many locked in a work-and-spend cycle that has no end and little lasting satisfaction. This certainly doesn’t deserve the social status and admiration it seems to attract by so many today.

Indeed, many of the world’s most sophisticated psychologists are hired by corporations to think up ways to make us, potential consumers, feel dissatisfied with what we have, despite our plenty, in order to get us to buy things we didn’t even know we wanted and certainly didn’t need. Corporations, mass media, and our politicians, are telling us that more money and more consumer products are the key to a better life.

Rather than dedicating our life to the pursuit of riches or status, those seeking a simple life are more likely to seek fulfilling employment, work less hours and accept a modest income, rather than getting too hung up about ‘needing’ more and more money. With less time devoted to acquiring things, we will have more time to spend with friends and family, and more time to spend pursuing personal interests and passions. In short, many are drawn to simplicity because they want to escape the rat race and Live more.

We live in a world of diminishing resources.

As Gandhi once said, ‘Live simply so that others may simply live.’

It is becoming increasingly clear that simpler living, is needed to save ourselves and our planet from permanent harm. The major cause of the continued deterioration of our personal and the global environment, is unsustainable consumption and production, with diminished ethics, particularly in the industrialized countries.

There is enough on the planet for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed. Our planet and our future generations urgently need us to explore a Better Way of Living.

Simple Living can involve:

  • Installing a water tank and thinking up ways to use less water.
  • Rather than using central heating, put on a sweater.
  • If you already have it and it still works well, use it, it doesn’t need replacing. Newer is not necessarily better.
  • Buying pre-loved clothing and furniture; create your own style, and fashion. The historic purpose of clothing was to keep us warm and for reasons of modesty. Today its primary purpose seems to be ‘in’ fashion and the conspicuous display of wealth and status.
  • Recycle. Used can be just as good as new, if not better sometimes. Once you have bought something and used it, it is now ‘used’ anyway.
  • Create and cultivate a garden, instead of going to the Theme Park again. Make it a joint family project, eating simply and creatively healthy food at home together afterwards, can be both economical and satisfying.
  • It might involve riding a bike instead of driving a car where possible, or car share.
  • We can choose a washing line over a dryer.
  • Choose to make or create something yourself instead of watching television.

The ideas are endless. It is time to resurrect some of the good ways life used to be lived. It is time to redefine what is seen as success and wealth in our culture.

Money is the currency of this culture, and how we spend our money is how we vote for what exists in this world.

This is an interesting exercise: Over a one month period, record where you spend every cent, and then categorize your expenses. Multiply each category by twelve to get an idea of the annual costs.  Examine not only the amount of money you spent on each category, but also the categories themselves. What does your spending pattern show you?   What is your money voting for in this world?

What steps can you take towards a Simpler Life?

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