5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood

For those of you who have read my about me page, you know that I have been researching and improving my health for over 18 years.  Last year I completed a sports nutrition certification and realized, yet again, how many of the health issues we face today can be altered and slowly improved with just the right tweak in our diets.  I believed so much in it, that in just 1 year, I had completely turned my life around from removing the foods that were causing me pain and “flare-ups” of my diseases.  Depression was not going to get me once I identified what foods made me worse.

So today, I was minding my own business gathering ingredients for a nice big salad, when a processed food display jumped right up and tried to grab me.  <<< not really, but it almost did.  Chocolate is my weakness.  But this chocolate was on something that is a known flare for me and causes me to crash so much right after eating it I feel like I can’t move.  I become that tired.  So I knew what I had to do and I want to help you do the same.  Let’s grab some of these great foods instead!

5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood:

  1. Go bananas <<< technically I linked to my favorite dry snack, but I love this version of dried bananas.  So what do these yellow fruits help us with?  Bananas employ mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates.  What happens in the body?  You get a quick boost from the fructose as well as sustaining energy from the fiber, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike and ensuing drop in energy as well as mood.  Mind you, this is natural and not some made up thing like “high fructose corn syrup”.  <<< icky for autoimmune responses…well just plain bad honestly. So I always stay away from that.  At our house, we tend to use bananas in smoothies, but if they have been there and are ripe, I will actually cut them up and put them in the freezer for later use as “banana cubes” in my blender.
  2. Sunflower seeds (or butter) <<< I love this stuff times 10.  I was doing research a few years ago on a theory I had that my prior acid-blocking supplements (completely weaned myself off them using natural remedy) were causing an issue with my magnesium levels.  Why is this important?  Magnesium, in addition to regulating mood, is vital for many body functions to operate normally. Magnesium deficiency can be responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety (triggers increase in adrenaline), and it’s been linked to various mood disorders. However, stable magnesium levels can help the body and mind achieve a calm and relaxed state.  Some scientific studies have shown magnesium supplementation to be beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.  Boom!  There it was yet again.  That feeling to go down the right path and unravel the mess my doctors, no offense to anyone, had caused in my gut.
  3. Dark chocolate is the bomb dot come in my world.  <<< the one linked I often see in my grocery store as a savior if I am desperate to have something chocolate.  I have to read all ingredients, but this one is safe for me.  The organic cacao powder is my go-to for smoothies, baking and drinks of the hot kind.  Yummy.  How does this help me?  Sorry men, but PMS time, seriously, come in the house with this in the shopping bag.  Here is why: Among its many nutrients, cacao beans contain a slightly stimulatory, mood-boosting caffeine derivative called theobromine. Theobromine, a molecule with a structure similar to caffeine, has been shown to support mood and increase focus:)  I am big into plant-based or phyto healing, so as this chocolate melts on your tongue, a number of reactions occur, including the release of serotonin in the brain and mood-elevating endorphins in the body.  Yummy.
  4. Pass me my green tea y’all.  <<< I linked my all-time favorite recent discovery of this muscle recovery tea I drink after a hard day of yoga.  So why is tea, especially green tea helpful?   Tea, the green variety more so, provides catechin antioxidants that have been shown to support brain function and promote proper balance of the stress hormone cortisol.  Further, a toasty mug of tea can supply you with L-theanine, an amino acid that might promote you being alert a bit more.  Also a report published in Public Health Nutrition showed that study participants who sipped four or more cups of green tea daily reported having a more positive mood.  I recently started making my green tea 30 minutes ahead of time in the fridge using cold water and mint leaves.  I then drink it cold and I know that provides a metabolism boost as well.
  5. Walnuts were also on my list of foods to eat.  <<< again, I have to be careful.  No glaze, no almonds (I personally found out they cause me stomach pain…who knew? Autoimmune is a tricky navigation.), no additives.  JUST walnuts!  Why are they helpful?  Walnuts contain a handful of components that contribute to the elusive good mood, including omega-3s, vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate.  Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings.  Boom!  Grab you some walnuts friends.  Or nutty friends…either way. Normal suggested dosage of omega-3 oils is one gram (1,000 mg) per day. You’ll get about the same amount, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein, in just half an ounce of walnuts.  I put them on my yogurt, but yogurt is a whole different story, so read the ingredients!  I personally have been enjoying some Brown Cow yogurt…but prior to that is was the Stonyfield Farms kind.  Again, navigate so that you can actually read all the ingredients as I discuss in my 4 Weeks to Wellness course.  You don’t want things you can’t read going into your body.  It really does flare all kinds of things that are just bringing you down.

Thank you guys for reading this and go out and clean your pantry today!  Stock up for better health!

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How I beat bloat…

This might seem like a strange title, but I get asked this question all the time.  So the way I navigate my blog, is just like you.  I have written about many topics, so I type in the word I am looking for using the search button.  When I type in “bloat” a bunch of old posts come up, but specifically, the one that most people need to read is My break up with sugar and gluten.

So, I’ll be over here while you catch up.  Now that you know I have thoroughly done my research, I want to tell you about the next steps.  First, go to your pantry.  The one with all the yummies that perhaps the kids eat.  Maybe you eat them too.   But put them way out of sight.  Or buy bins and label them Kids snacks, but don’t go there for yourself.  I know, I know.  But believe me, you will feel better.  Next, make yourself a snack shelf.  Read the label of everything you put there.  Everything.  If the first ingredient is sugar, it goes in the kids bin.  If it includes any sort of wheat, etc.  Click my hidden links on those words if you don’t know how to figure this out.  it takes practice.

I’m sure some clients get mad at me…and I say GOOD.  Get mad at me for telling you that includes diet sodas.  It’s like Hell’s Kitchen up in your pantry.  But for real.  You want to feel better?  Do or do not.  There is no try.  Imagine tiny Yoda up there if it makes you feel better.  Use the force.  Push the food away.  Erm.  I went off on a geek tangent.  But I know this is hard.  I detoxed like I was having withdrawal symptoms…for real.  And you know what?  I lost 25 pounds.  My back was bending, my stomach was bloated, and I was actually shrinking.  I lost an inch in height!!  Can you believe that?  I did.

Me_1_yearWhen my friend took this before photo, and lied like a good friend, and said oh girl, it’s not that bad, I wanted to cry.  I kept saying something was wrong.  Why won’t doctors listen to me.  25 pounds in 6 months was not normal.  I was swollen, and working out.  I wasn’t losing a thing.  I never would have either.  If I hadn’t started researching what happened to my body after eating white bread.  Then the IBS symptoms.  Then the stomach pain.   You get it.  I thought I was doing great with the gluten-free, nope.  Sugar was still causing bloat.  The after photo is after 3 months without sugar as well.

I did start using things to help.  The “skinny” pack.  Why did I buy into it?  Here’s why…the wraps are completely all natural phytonutrients.  I looked up what everything did and saw that it could work to help relieve my bloat.  I needed to be on it for 3 months as well as do the above to really get the harmful effects of sugar and gluten out of my body.  My lymphatic system has slowed down to almost no movement.  I was sore in all 18 trigger points for fibromyalgia.  I knew I had it.  But, quite frankly, I had enough to worry about. If I accidentally ate something to cause bloat, I would take a fat fighter to stop the carbs turning into sugar.  It also helped to balance my blood sugar.  Next, I would take a hot shower and wrap every single Sunday night and leave the wrap on.  I felt amazing on Monday.  I would rub on my defining gel because my veins were doing weird things in my legs too.

I continued to research ingredients and put myself on the greens due to the probiotics I needed to fix my gut lining.  More research into leaky gut…you may use that and search on this blog.  I also took a ThermoFit if my gastroparesis (food just sat there for a million years) was doing it’s thing.  Again, I went to doctors and had tests so I knew what was wrong…they had not one suggestion on how to move forward that didn’t include drugs with horrible side effects.  Being on acid blockers like omeprazole would make me worse over time…so I took myself off based on more research.  I drink apple cider vinegar (unfiltered) now.

As you can tell…it does take hard work and determination to fix your gut.  If any of this sounds like you, I have more tips on my Facebook page Vitalize You, plus the tab at the top of this blog talks about more.  I had an open mind when I started this process because I truly believed I could help myself with all-natural products.  That’s why I started my business.  I believe you can do this!  Hashimoto’s, autoimmune, leaky gut, gastroparesis, IBS whatever you want to name it, it starts in the gut.  Don't quit

Author’s note:  I have now developed a new program, and it does not include any supplements, but will help you learn everything that I researched for years, in the space of 4 Weeks!!!!  <<< click there to learn more.

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Hello new friends…

Hi friends, if you are new over here and want to read my story, you can use the side button to go all the way to some of my first posts.  If you want to really “hear” my story, the recording of the Talk Radio Blog show is on the post before this one.  It’s your choice.  I know it sounds long, but I talk about invisible diseases as pertain to me, so it might be interesting to you.  Lastly, I use a method of clean eating…no processed foods, no fast food, not white sugar, no flour, etc.  And supplements to stay healthy.  See the tab on the blog here called Vitalize You and it basically tells you just a few of the products I use.  I opted not to be on Lyrica or Cymbalta due to my research.

The road to wellness…

Next up, I will be extremely busy with my new yoga teacher training classes and more to come on that I’m sure.  I am using these methods instead of “traditional” and so far I have lost 18 pounds and gone down 3 sizes just from getting rid of the toxins that my body was reacting to with autoimmune.  I have gotten rid of the bloat and the IBS symptoms I used to experience from food “attacking” me.  I still have my bad days…as does everyone, but I am making progress.

I also have a tab at the top of this blog explaining how I work with clients…so feel free to read that as well as my “About me”.

Feel free to message my FB page Vitalize You with supplement/weight loss questions.

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New Year, New Brain?

You knew it was coming.  I might, just might, be doing a tiny bit more research.  I know.  Some people are addicted to finding answers.  I guess that’s me.  Ever since my body started attacking me, and I was well, not happy about it, I have been on a mission to find out where all this was coming from.  I know that as a child I was sick more often than not.  By 5 years old, I had tubes in my ears, and had been on antibiotics so much that I looked forward to the pink medicine my mom gave me.  I remember being sick, shivering under crocheted afghans, on the mildly scratchy brown plaid couch.  The pattern continued to repeat all the way into adulthood.

Knock on wood, but right now, since changing things with my body, and the way I eat, I have started to heal internally…I think.  I have not gotten sick even though I have been around others who were very sick.  My stomach is leveling out and my “second brain” is healing.  Wonder what I am talking about?  Read this article on How the Gut’s Second Brain Influences Mood and Well-being.  I know this to be true because when I was under constant attack only a few months ago, I was perhaps the worst mood-wise I have ever been.  I back this up with research that has been ongoing for years:

DO BACTERIA CONTROL THE BRAIN?

A study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility indicates that it is not simply the neurons and neurotransmitters in the stomach that play a role in signaling to the brain.  In fact, a large part of the work may be done by the “intestinal microbiota” in your gut—a.k.a. the germs in your stomach.

There are approximately 100 trillion bacteria that reside in your intestines, reports Psychology Today.  Researchers in Canada have studied these microbes and have concluded, “that the presence or absence of conventional intestinal microbiota influences the development of behavior and is accompanied by neurochemical changes in the brain.”

Some believe that this study could serve as a gateway to treating stress-related disorders such as depression, reports Psychology Today.

Not only do I believe this, but I have been conducting research on my own, and using myself as a test subject.  Why?  Because I had nothing to lose.  I was already in pain, so I needed to start at ground zero.  The good news is that after taking some of the food triggers away and adding the healing supplements I have been taking, I seem to be able to know how to balance myself out.  The bad news is that my gut has more triggers than most.  The autoimmune disease I have thinks most food is trying to attack me, so I have been very careful.  I have messed up twice during the holidays and immediately had another attack.  It is when I eat any food other than prepared by my household that I have pain.

Lastly, I just wanted to throw this bit of news in here.  After years of research on keeping the gut balanced, the body aligned and your head clear of extraneous mood triggers, I developed 4 Weeks to Wellness.  Feel free to check it out!  Hover over the link to go there and click it to learn more.

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Killing me softly…

Don’t say anything.  Not a word.  Just watch this first:

Now, I have put one more piece of the puzzle in place.  My husband and I grew up on all kinds of food.  Every kind of junk food there was in the 80’s, plus home-grown veggies for me as well.  Do you know what I discovered yesterday?  After my tiny breakdown, for real, I discovered that I am allergic to things I eat everyday.  I am allergic to SUGAR and my license to be Southern is going to be revoked.  Who in their right mind is allergic to sugah in the south???  That might as well be like saying I am allergic to air.  After I had my meltdown, I got to work.  Okay, so soy, sugar, cinnamon and oh yeah tomatoes.  I started by looking up soy.  I can live without that.  Fine.  Whatever.  But something was still nagging me.  The stomach bloat, pain, and pressure.  There is a wheat connection here somewhere because I had started to feel better gluten-free, just not quite myself yet.

After opening 5 tabs and cross-referencing, I sent all the links to my mom because her first words were “I have never heard of anyone being allergic to that.”  I found some really great writers and I am so thankful for them.  Because at first, I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I found this link and it explained pain in my joints, which was interesting, because as you know, I have that from a few years ago, but I was playing pick one of my illnesses as it is a symptom of one of them anyway.  I then moved on to this article explaining IBS and sugar intolerance.  Hmm.  Close.  But this momma really nailed it on the head over here.  She links fructose malabsorption to depression.  Bing, bing, bing.  She wins.  I was depressed, er, but that could be because of the whole eliminate sugar thing.

Anyway, I wanted to share all of this because I am not quite done yet, but everyone was asking me what I found out.  This is quite a bit of news to take in.  Especially the TED talk.  Whew.  You are what you eat?

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”  ~ Jean Brillat-Savarin

NEAT…(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.I started working out again.  Yay for me.  My mind was screaming ugh leading up to it for some reason.  You see, it is really hard to get back into the swing of things when you break a “habit”.  I have read numerous articles, blogs, etc. that say a habit is formed in 21-30 days.  I don’t know if “they” are right…whoever “they” are.  I know I am trying to enlist in my army of support.  I have people stashed everywhere.  A gym buddy.  A yoga buddy.  A clean-eating/juicer buddy.  Gluten-free buddies.  Ski buddies (I miss you).  Ways to get me outside or doing something.

Apparently, I can even lose weight while doing almost nothing…NEAT.  No, really, it is called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.  This is a really cool concept and you can read about it here.  Supposedly, NEAT burns an average of 330 calories in healthy individuals.  So my idea of asking buddies all around me to get me to exercise more can help me with things like “walk” meetings.  Ha.  How cool would that be.  Okay, I know we have a meeting, but let’s all walk back and forth down the hall and let everyone know our business while conducting this meeting.  Okay, maybe that won’t work for everything, but have you ever had a co-worker try to stop you to chat?  Say, walk with me.  Then go back and forth.  We have space at our building to do this, but not enough time usually.  We need to make time if it makes us healthy.

There are also reports that people with more friends at work are healthier and less stressed.  Stress causes us to eat more.  I can tell you one thing, I don’t have much time during the day.  I miss my lunch buddies and I do think that helped a lot, but then all our lunch times were moved around (I still have a lunch buddy thankfully).  I see less of my friends now.  I might have to try the walking meeting.  If I bust in your room, you now know why.  Consider yourself warned…and buddies that pop in from other places, I miss you too!

Last thought tonight, make your plans, enlist in help, and don’t be afraid to start again the next day when things don’t go as planned.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  ~Hippocrates

Be excellent to yourself…

I have talked about this before, but why must we beat ourselves up over and over again about the same thing?  So we made a mistake.  Move on.  So we said something dumb.  Show me someone who hasn’t.  We made a mistake at work.  No one else ever has, right?  We said something in front of our kids and they were not meant to hear it.  What has been said cannot be unsaid.  It can be explained.  It can be forgiven.  So forgive yourself.

I am constantly reminding myself of these very things.  I feel guilty as a working mom and wish I could do many things that I just can’t do.  When I get off of work, I feel guilty if I want to swing by the gym, grab a drink with a friend, or just go shopping by myself.  I have put off going to my yoga class because my girls are not asleep yet and I haven’t tucked them in.  My husband reminded me tonight that when I have a mental breakdown because I haven’t made time for myself, well, then I’ll really feel guilty.  Ha.

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed, overworked and overdone!  That’s why I want you to focus on being excellent.  So you didn’t finish that thing at work.  Meh.  It will be there tomorrow.  I need more people to realize that life isn’t just about getting the job done.  I am wrestling with my own dilemmas just like everybody else.  I appreciate the people in my life who tell me to slow down and relax.  I realize I am wired to go full speed ahead, and try to get everything done at once.  I need to book the family another get away to the cabin in the woods with no cell reception.  I like that place.  Let’s all slow down and take a deep breath.  Read this if you need some help.  Look at the section on mindfulness, which means to focus on the here and now.

Lastly, consider what you are eating at this time of year.  Here is an article to help.  I actually have pinned several recipes to my boards about clean eating.  Whatever method you chose, just remember, tomorrow is another day.

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mood Quote

Visiting Charlotte…

My dad has been in the hospital this week, so I haven’t really had much to say, but I did make a stop out at the “farm” to see his folks.  It isn’t really a farm so much anymore, more of a garden, but I enjoy walking back in the fields and remembering how it used to look.  It has changed over the last 30 years mostly because it is a lot to maintain for one couple, but if you live anywhere near my grandparents they will tell you to come pick your own vegetables.  I just cut up about 15 tomatoes to freeze with basil for soups and such in the fall.  I have cucumbers, squash and enough blueberries to make several cobblers, but I froze some of those as well.  Here is a peek at the land:

As a child, my cousins and I would jump over this stream and try to find the “crawdads” that lived nearby.

There was a time when this worked…once.  The fields were planted with every kind of vegetable imaginable and pumpkins for the fall.

My grandparents have many kinds of blueberries…

Lastly, a throwback from when they had livestock…honestly, that was before my time.  So much so that I have no idea what this is called, but if you do, please comment:)  Ha.

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” 

~David Hobson