Article by Alison Burton
I was filling my car with petrol the other day and looking at the signs in the window at the service station. They had huge posters for Slurpees, Magnums, Mars Bars and Big Ms. The ads were inferring that life is much happier when you include these things in your daily diet. I grew up with the “Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” jingle. We have been exposed to this kind of misleading advertising for the past 60 years or so, and as a result we, and our children, assume it’s normal to eat low nutrient, high calorie products (I hesitate to call them foods).
With my interest in Natural Health I see so clearly that the choices we make with food have an enormous impact on our health. Not only our physical health, but our mental health. As part of my training I studied a subject call Psychonutrition. We learned, for example, how unstable blood sugar can cause anxiety, how a lack of Vitamin C can cause paranoia and a lack of zinc can cause irrational thinking. It’s interesting to know that taking a zinc supplement can be a very effective the first step in treating Anorexia.
Although I am a Hypnotherapist and people come to me to fix what’s going on in their mind I often ask about their diet. I had a young mum referred to me by her GP for anxiety and I quickly discovered that she was drinking 2 litres of Pepsi Max a day. She thought it was fine because it is sugar free but she didn’t realise the “Max” actually refers to the caffeine levels. No wonder she was suffering from anxiety.
Her GP hadn’t thought to ask about her diet. He was trained in drugs and surgery, not nutrition. He put her on medication and, to his credit, referred her for counselling. I suggested a lovely approach to changing her Pepsi habit. Rather than banning it, which would have caused even more anxiety, I told her to have a glass of water prior to each glass of Pepsi. Within a few days she was feeling so much better she easily stopped drinking the Pepsi and her anxiety cleared.
This approach to changing unhealthy habits is called “Crowding Out.” When you eat enough healthy foods you lose interest in the unhealthy products. It is important not to ban anything but to make sure you always include plenty of water and whole, nutritious foods every day. This is a good approach with kids. A recent UK study showed that people with the highest sense of wellbeing ate 7 serves of fruit and vegies daily. A serve is half a cup of cooked vegies, a cup of salad, a piece of fruit like an apple, banana or orange or a half cup of berries. How simple and natural is that??
Of course eating nutritious foods also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and all its associated heath complications, heart disease and many cancers. Only around 9% of Australians actually eat their 2 fruits and 5 vegies a day. No wonder the countries healthcare costs are skyrocketing and we have epidemics of diabetes, anxiety and depression.
Some Foods Facts
• When prisoners in a UK goal were given whole foods without preservative and colourings etc. the incidence of violence in the prison dropped by more than 50%
• When school children have free access to nutritious foods in the classroom, behaviour and concentration improves.
• In the late 1800’s the annual sugar consumption was 3 kilos per person. Currently in Australia it’s 50 kilos per person
• Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, depression and suppress the immune system
For support with changing the way you eat we offer a regular Weight Loss Seminar. Even if you don’t need to lose weight you will get some great common sense tips to keep your health on track.
For an assessment of how nutrition might be affecting your mental, emotional or physical health make an appointment with our Naturopath.
By the way, did you know that Acupuncture can assist in reducing sugar addictions or cravings, boosting metabolism and balancing your hormones? Our Acupuncturist is available to help get you create great health.
Health and Happiness Guru
Simply Natural Therapies