Let’s make this year different than any before! I’m suggesting we skip the lofty New Year’s resolution that often leaves us deprived and unhappy and trade it in for living an intentional and mindful year that prioritizes self-care.
While self-care has become quite the trendy term, it simply boils down to prioritizing one’s own physical and mental health. It requires turning inward to uncover the things that bring happiness and joy, and ensuring we do more of those things!
So this year, instead of creating a rigid list of foods or activities you’re swearing off, consider creating a list you can draw upon whenever you’d like to revitalize your commitment to self-love and self-care. Begin this self-care list by taking inventory of all of the things that bring you joy. This list may include people, places, actives, hobbies, and perhaps even smells and tastes! Know that this list is ever-evolving, so remain flexible and update it as needed.
To help you succeed at this ongoing self-care practice, I’ve created a list of foods you can draw on to incorporate as part of your self-care practice.
Foods to help you focus:
Salmon (and other fatty fish) — Many researchers consider DHA to be the most important fat found in the human brain, and the unusual concentration of this omega-3 fatty acid in salmon helps explain the research-documented benefits of salmon including better brain function, better overall cell function, and improved control of the body’s inflammatory processes(1).
Strawberries — The strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits provided by strawberries have proven to improve brain function. Certain research studies have shown the connection between strawberry consumption and new nerve generation in the hippocampus, which is often involved in the learning and recall of new information(2)!
Cinnamon — Just smelling the wonderful aroma of this sweet spice boosts brain activity! Purchase cinnamon in it’s dried stick or powder form, or as a high-quality essential oil to diffuse in your home office.
Other suggested foods include avocado, blueberries, oranges, walnuts, and green tea.
Foods to decrease stress and tension:
Turmeric — Prized for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, recent studies have shown the spice plays an active role in treating various central nervous system disorders as well as offering a protective action against stress(3). Turmeric can be utilized either fresh or dried and is easily incorporated into many types of cuisines.
Eggs (and other proteins) — Incorporating high-quality, pasture-raised and organic, protein, like eggs, is key to supporting your body through stress as it will fuel your system from a cellular level, ensuring your body will return to balance. Eggs are also an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that has been shown to play an important role in brain health and may protect against stress(4).
Leafy greens — Leafy greens, including spinach, kale, and chard, all contain choline as well, which as mentioned above, play an important role in managing and reducing stress in the body. Additionally, the antioxidant richness found in leafy greens is helpful in the reduction of oxidative stress.
Other suggested foods include broccoli, parsley, organ meats, sweet potatoes, and water.
Foods to soothe and relax you:
Walnuts — A fascinating aspect of walnuts and their potential health benefits involves their naturally occurring melatonin. Melatonin is a widely-active messaging molecule in our nervous system and is critical in the regulation of sleep, daily (circadian) rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes(5). If you’re looking for improved sleep and relaxation, grab a handful of walnuts!
Chamomile — Chamomile is best known for its wonderful calming action and is used to ease tension and stress, emotional upset, nervousness, and insomnia (6). Purchasing dried, organic flowers in bulk is an easy and affordable way to always have chamomile on hand to be utilized as a tea, compress, or a lovely addition to your bath.
Bananas — Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium, an important mineral that relaxes your muscles and activates your parasympathetic nervous system that regulates “rest and digest”.
Other suggested foods include honey, nuts, seeds, and eggs.
Foods to energize you:
Coffee or Green Tea — Both beverages naturally contain caffeine that stimulates the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and energized. If coffee makes you too jittery, swap your afternoon pick me up for green tea.
Cacao — Cacao is a superfood that will boost your energy! It comes in many different forms, including powder and nibs, and can be added to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Apples — Due to its comprehensive macronutrient and micronutrient profile, this fruit provides a burst of energy in the form of carbohydrates and natural sugars, while also stabilizing blood sugar.
Other suggested foods include rice, quinoa, potatoes, pineapple, and dark chocolate.
Here’s to a new year where we swap the complicated resolutions for clear intentions and fuel our bodies with foods that support our goals! Wishing you only health, happiness, and joy for 2021.
- “Salmon.” The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=104.
- “Strawberries.” The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32.
- Kulkarni, S K, and A Dhir. “An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medknow Publications, Mar. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929771/.
- Glenn, Melissa J, et al. “Supplemental Dietary Choline during Development Exerts Antidepressant-like Effects in Adult Female Rats.” Brain Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Mar. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3327365/.
- “Walnuts.” The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99#healthbenefits.
- Justis, Posted By Angela. “A Family Herb: Chamomile Flower.” Herbal Academy, 25 Jan. 2018, theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-chamomile-flower/.