Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mood and Food - Connect the Dots

Mood and Food

3 Nutritionally Related Mood Triggers
6 Simple Ways Food Helps Regulate Mood



Mood Swings – Nutritionally Related Trigger #1 – Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia – a fancy name for low blood sugar level. Hypoglycemia occurs when:

  • Your body's sugar (glucose) is used up too quickly
  • Glucose is released into the bloodstream too slowly
  • Too much insulin is released into the bloodstream
Although it is most common in people with diabetes, it can happen for healthy people from time to time as well, especially when there is big fluctuation in blood sugar level, or if a person hasn’t eaten for a long period of time.

Skipping meals, not eating enough during meals, genetic tendency for low blood sugar and not compensating by adding extra meals or snacks can all contribute to hypoglycemia.

There are a few ways to alleviate mood issues caused by hypoglycemia:

§       Eat meals that are low in glycemic load: substitute refined grains with whole grains, include a generous amount of vegetables, and a moderate amount of protein and good fats which can slow down the absorption of carbs.

§       To keep blood sugar levels even, experiment with having 5 – 6 small meals or snacks a day, instead of 3 big meals.

§        Avoid as much as possible processed foods, and anything that contains sugar and refined carbohydrates.

If you need extra help with balancing blood sugar level, there are a few things that you can take to supplement your nutritional intake The basics are:
  • Good multivitamin to deal with backlog of deficiencies
  • Vitamin C
  • Essential fatty acid – fish oil supplement, omega 3

Mood Swings – Nutritionally Related Trigger #2 – Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance can trigger mood swings, depression and anxiety.

People who are gluten intolerant can suffer from mood problems, depression and anxiety when they eat foods that contain gluten. In children, this can also be expressed as learning disabilities or behavioral issues such as hyperactivity. Gluten can damage the brain and nerves of gluten-sensitive people. The symptoms from gluten occur through its action on the nervous system and affect brain function.

Gluten intolerance often expresses itself as chronic bowel problems, especially constipation, and cravings for gluten-containing foods such as refined sweets and starches.

The best way to find out if you are gluten intolerant is to eliminate gluten from the diet and challenge after 2 weeks – meaning adding gluten-containing foods back into the diet and observe the reaction.

Here are some gluten-free grains that you can explore: brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, cornmeal (polenta), millet, quinoa, wild rice and oats/oatmeal (sometimes oats can contain gluten due to content, contact or contamination during the manufacturing process).

Mood Swings – Nutritionally Related Trigger #3 – Neurotransmitter Dysfunction

Our brain depends on neurotransmitters to transmit signals. Neurotransmitters are made of amino acids, which come from protein in our food.  The brain is protein dependent, it needs amino acids, which makes up protein, to manufacture these neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters that regulate mood also regulate our appetite. When we become deficient in our neurotransmitters, we start craving carbs and sugars. The more deficient, the more cravings we have for bad carbs such as refined sugar and processed carbohydrates.

If dietary improvement is not enough to relieve the depression and anxiety, and to counteract the cravings for “bad mood foods” such as refined carbs, sugar, corn syrup, fructose-based substances etc., then supplementation may be necessary. This is called amino acid therapy – the process is to identify negative mood and see what nutrient supplement that are most useful for the symptoms.

The most common reason for depression is serotonin deficiency. The precursor of serotonin is tryptophan, which is the first to be lost in a low calorie diet. It is most common for people who skip meals and are addicted to empty calories.

However, not everyone is suitable for amino acid therapy – particularly if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking other prescription medication. Never try to self-prescribed – always consult a qualified professional before taking amino acid supplements.

 6 Simple Ways Nutrition Helps Regulate Mood

 #1. Eat regularly: Food is fuel; skip a meal and you'll feel tired and cranky.

#2. Don’t skimp on carbs: Carbohydrates have long been demonized, but your body needs carbs to produce serotonin—a feel-good brain chemical that elevates mood, suppresses appetite, and has a calming effect.

Only complex carbs—high in fiber and packed with whole grains—have a positive effect on mood, whereas simple carbs such as candy, cake, cookies, and other sugary choices, bring you down. Need a quick mood boost? Try a healthy carb snack, like a couple cups of air-popped popcorn or half a whole-grain English muffin.

#3. Get enough omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s—found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines—improve both memory and mood. Most experts recommend at least two servings of fatty fish per week; other sources include ground flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and omega-3-fortified eggs.

#4. Get enough of these nutrients: iron, vitamin B1, B6, folic acid, selenium, and vitamin D.

#5. Watch your fat intake: Greasy choices—particularly those high in saturated fat—are linked to both depression and dementia.

#6. Moderate your caffeine intake: In moderate amounts, caffeine can enhance physical and mental performance, but too much can spur anxiety, nervousness, and mood swings. Stick to one or two cups daily to dodge the negative effects.

Hormonal Balance and Mood (PMS)

For us ladies, staying emotionally balanced is always more challenging during “that time of the month”. The hormone fluctuations that we experience during our periods can be particularly challenging for some.

Vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium and GLA have been shown to alleviate PMS. For some kinds of PMS, hormonal changes disturb blood sugar control and bring on sugar and stimulant cravings, as well as symptoms of tiredness and irritation. In this case, eliminating sugar and stimulants from the diet, as well as eating complex carbohydrates and fruits in small quantities and often, can often help relieve the symptoms.

If these dietary changes cannot help completely resolve the issue, you may then want to see if your PMS is due to estrogen-dominance or relative lack of progesterone. This condition may be brought on by prolonged use of birth control pills, and will need testing and correcting by a qualified health professional.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Magical Cacao in Decadent Chocolate Truffles!

Eat chocolate, get healthier, slow down the aging process -- seem too good to be true? Well, there is evidence showing it is true, but you have to eat the real thing, not the sugar-added, highly processed chocolate found in conventional stores.

Sacred Truth Truffle: Artic Chi  

Magical Cacao: "Raw cacao is one of the most, if not THE most, nutrient rich and complex foods known to man. All chocolate starts out as raw cacao “beans” or nuts - the seed of the cacao fruit which grows on a tropical tree. The usual roasting/processing of chocolate destroys a significant amount of its valuable health supporting properties. Much of the mood elevating, antidepressant and antioxidant qualities are eliminated with heating." (Excerpt from Sacred Chocolate Website) 

Sacred Chocolate is a company I love and fully endorse. Their products are raw, stone ground, organic and vegan. Did you know that chocolate (the real whole raw kind that is) is an amazing health food, filled with polyphenol antioxidants and flavanols.

Stone Ground Raw Vegan Chocolate Holiday Gift Boxes

Sacred Chocolate: Raw, Stone-Ground, Organic & Vegan

Do your sweethearts a favor this Valentine's day and fill their heart with goodness - sweet, chocolatey, heart-healthy, decadent, sensuous goodness in the form of chocolate hearts and incredible truffles, hand-made here in the US, with love and blessings.

Check out their complete selection and place your order here.

Out of this world!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Shopping Guide

Get the the guide here:

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

You can download the iPhone application at shopnogmo also.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eating for Energy, Part 5 - Food for the Soul

If you are like many, during this busy season, it is hard to find time to think about yourself, with all the shopping, planning, cooking, and numerous activities involved in caring for others and creating a wonderful holiday experience.  So instead of running on low or empty, find some time to  nourish yourself. 

Increasing self-care is one of the best ways to improve your energy level. When you do things that you are passionate about, it fuels your soul. When you allow yourself to take a break and relax, you feel refreshed and have all the energy to take on the world.

Here are some ideas to nourish you soul:
1. Clean, fresh air
2. Exercise/movement
3. Meaningful relationship
4. Fulfilling career
5. Rest and relaxation
6. Spiritual practice

Create a “nourishment menu” for yourself. When you feel like you need a boost, take the list out and do one of the things that fuels your soul. Some ideas: taking a walk in nature, calling your loved ones, doing yoga or stretching exercises, taking your dog out for a walk, taking a walk with a friend to catch up, or working on a hobby.

 For more resources, including my Healthy Holiday Recipes book, visit my website.  Lots of great free recipes await.  And if 2012 is your year to change your health, I would love to support you.  Sign up for a free health consultation and give yourself the gift of one hour to talk about YOU with a holistic health coach.  Your life is waiting and I can support you on your journey.  
Happy Holidays to you and yours and much health and happiness in the new year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eating for Energy, Part 4 - Less Toxins, More Energy

 Welcome to Part 4 of Eating for Energy!  Hope you are enjoying this special time of year, even with all the extra activities.   This series, Eating for Energy, can help you maintain and even increase your energy levels into the New Year.

Reducing toxic load turns out to have a lot to do with increasing your energy level. Our body has to use a lot of energy to process the environmental toxins that we come into contact with and ingest everyday. If we reduce our body’s workload, and therefore energy expenditure, in processing and eliminating toxins, we have more energy for everything else.

Reducing toxic load can help reduce brain fog and boost our immune system, which can increase our productivity. It can also help improve our digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients, making them more available to support our daily activities.

Here are 5 tips to reduce your toxic load:
1. Use herbs that support our detox organs – liver, kidney and colon. E.g. milk thistle and dandelion.
2. Encourage elimination through skin, our largest organ for elimination. E.g. sweating and dry brushing.
3. Buy and eat organic food as much as possible – learn about the “Dirty Dozen” list and try to shop organic for this produce.
4. Reduce processed and packaged foods, which are loaded with chemicals.
5. Replace household and personal products with a lot of chemicals with those made with natural ingredients.
For more healthy tips and recipes, be sure and visit my website,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eating for Energy Part 3 - Boost Your Energy by Caring for Your Nervous System

With all the holiday season craziness that sometimes takes on a life of its own, it is important to care for your nervous system. Taking care of your nervous system can help you restore and replenish your energy, stay focused without the caffeine jitter, and feel calm and relaxed so that you can get the rest you need when you need it.  Let's keep the Joy in the season!

Here are 4 approaches to help care for your nervous system for increased energy:

1. Strengthen the nervous system with herbs such as burdock, dandelion, gingko, nettle, oaks and Siberian ginseng.

2. Encourage calm and relaxation with chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and oats.

3. Explore coffee alternatives such as Yerba Mate, green tea, black tea, or Rooibos (African Red Bush) to avoid the caffeine jitter.  I personally love Yerba Mate and it is a great aid to cutting back or eliminating caffeine without a withdrawal headache. 

4. Calcium has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Eat calcium-rich food for dinner (e.g. leafy greens, bone broth). If you take a calcium supplement, take it with dinner.

So take care of your nervous system so you can enjoy the hustle and bustle without overdoing the caffeine.  You really do get more done from a rested and relaxed place. 
If you need any help with healthy holiday recipes, don't forget all the resources on my website.  Just check out the recipes section. You can sign up for my Healthy Holiday Recipes eBook also and Eat for Energy throughout the holiday season.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eating for Energy, Part 2 - Less Sugar, More Energy

Less Sugar, More Energy

Wouldn't it be great to have all the energy you need to get through all the shopping, planning, decorating, cooking and busy-ness that is part of the holiday season!  Wouldn't it be awesome to feel rested and relaxed when the day arrives, instead of tired, frazzled or irritable due to low energy?  Well, here is the next great tip to help you have a Holly-Jolly-Christmas:

Avoiding refined sugar is one of the best ways to minimize blood sugar spikes and crashes, which causes a drastic change in energy level. The most effective way to get off sugar is to get to the root cause of your sugar cravings. Here are a few strategies:

1. Eat sweet vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, corn, winter squash, sweet potatoes and onion to satisfy our body’s need for sweet taste (which is normal)
2. Eat meals with low glycemic load to avoid fluctuation in energy and blood sugar level. When we crash, we reach for sugar for quick fixes. Combine whole grains and vegetables (high fiber foods) with a moderate amount of good fats and lean protein.
3. Stay hydrated – thirst is sometimes mistaken as hunger, which leads to cravings.
4. Investigate sugar cravings as a result of nutrient deficiency – e.g. chromium and tryptophan.
5. Nourish your soul – some people crave sweets out of boredom or loneliness.

 I hope you will try some or all of these strategies to reduce your sugar intake.  They will really make a difference quickly, so get started today.  I highly recommend Stevia as a great sweetener, as it is zero calorie, it is all natural, and it does not elevate blood sugar.  

OK, so start getting your energy optimized and have a great December.  If you would like some healthy, whole foods recipes for this season, check out my website recipe section.  You can get you "Healthy Holiday Recipes" eBook there, as well as other free recipes.  Just click on the recipes tab.  

Part 3 will be coming to you in a few days!  Make it a great day.

Carrie Andrews