How Do You Maximize The Foods You Eat For Mental Well-being?

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There is so much information about eating, not eating, what to eat, what to avoid when to eat, and other suggestions for a healthy body and mind. Although our bodies have a similar structure, each of us requires an individual approach to health maintenance & sustainability. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to achieving and sustaining optimal health. Many organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, have encouraged individuals, specifically those with diabetes, to adopt an individualized approach to eating, doing away with prescribed meal plans and calorie restrictions.

As always, before starting, changing, and ending a meal plan, always consult your health care provider and make sure your health team is aware of your changes. For example, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure may mean fluid restrictions, bone disorders may lead to an increase/decrease in certain minerals, and diabetes may lead to insulin adjustments. 

It’s important to remember that our body works together to obtain overall balance, including mental wellness. The body produces chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin (feel-good chemicals), GABA and melatonin (relaxing chemicals), epinephrine, and norepinephrine (flight or fight responses that rev up heart rate and blood pressure), and others to support the body during life events. Too much or too little body chemicals can send us on a roller coaster of emotions or increase our emotional instability. Some of the foods we eat help our body produce enough body-balancing chemicals i.e. apples and serotonin).

For example, cortisol helps fight infection and tells the liver to produce more blood sugar while slowing down insulin’s effectiveness to turn sugar into food. So then, our blood sugars are high, which can impact our ability to think clearly. 

This is the fourth week of discussing mental wellness during June of 2021, post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) awareness month. Please feel free to look at my previous blogs discussing dismantling myths, letting go of expectations, and reevaluating our emotions and feelings over past experiences.

So, how do you maximize the food you eat for mental wellness?

  1. You realize that everything you eat affects your well-being. 
  2. You listen to your body. After eating rich food, those noises you hear may be telling you the food is too rich (sweet) for you. Your headaches may be confirming the food is too salty. 
  3. You trust yourself and your body to lead the way. No one can and will know your body better than you, no matter the affiliations, degrees, and titles. 
  4. You treat knowledge as knowledge and not a matter of fact for you.
  5. You are open and flexible to a new way of doing and thinking. 
  6. You become a student of your health. Research foods using reliable sources and sites (National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and others.)

So, continue to do what you can to achieve and sustain optimal health. You are worth every minute.

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Make this lifetime great!


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How I Put My Father’s Absence In A Healthy Perspective, And You Can, Too.

I am not writing this blog to bash my father, for he was one of my first and greatest teacher. But, I know for some people, today is a bit of a struggle. I may not have the same experience as you. Still, I know what it is like to be on an emotional roller coaster of anger, confusion, disappointment, and resentment towards someone who helped create you.

My father was not there for birthday celebrations, prom dates, or other significant events. Instead, I have memories of a few heated conversations and my father telling me that he would disown me like the Japanese.

I wanted my father to be someone he was not and was not ready to be. But, despite all my mother endured, she never called my father outside of his name or wished she hadn’t met him. She, too, uncovered treasures out of a potentially traumatic experience. And she shared her life experiences with us so that we could have a better life.

According to my mother, my father showed a different side of himself after my birth. I am the three children they had together. My mother said our father drank a lot and used drugs. I remember my father lying across the kitchen floor and being on trial for telling someone that he abused my mother.

On the other hand, I have some good memories. One day, my brother and I were teasing some neighboring children. They called our bluff and chased us from outside of our apartment to the top floor of our apartment building. Thankfully, my father answered opened our apartment, thereby scaring the children away. In addition, my father showed a gentle side by feeding me bread and giving words of encouragement after I swallowed a fishbone.

After 4 and 1/2 years of feeling like a punching bag, a single parent, and a receptacle for voiced pain, my mother chose to leave my father and make a better life for herself and their three children. At the time, I was months short of my 5th birthday, the eldest boy 3, and the baby boy just turned one.

Over the years, I struggled with my emotions and feelings towards my father. I was most upset about seeing my mother struggling to provide for three growing children. The infrequent phone calls I had with him over the past 40 years left me feeling more angry, confused, and disappointed until I realized that unhealed wounds could rob us of the gift of life.

So, I have reasons to be angry, but I refuse to because my father was and still is one of my first and greatest teachers.

Here are six things that helped me to have a healthier perspective towards my father.

  1. I am not the cause and never was the cause of my father’s pain and his reaction to his pain. A child is never responsible for an adult’s behavior.
  2. I realized how destructive unhealed wounds could be. I was not the cause of my father’s absence. He is the one who missed out on the most beautiful things life offers — -seeing children process life and develop into adults.
  3. I realized I needed to be an active parent. I know what it’s like to not to have my father’s unconditional love, guidance, and protection. Every day I am grateful for the two spiritual beings God has blessed me to have.
  4. Address my emotions and feelings. I knew my father couldn’t be there for me because something else had his attention. My pain is not my children’s pain. I knew my father’s substance abuse put me at risk of seeking external comforters for unhealed wounds. The signposts in my life(including interactions with my father) continued to confirm that I needed to heal my wounds.
  5. Hold firm that family and parenting is a team effort. No one should have to do all the work alone.
  6. Rely more on my heavenly father to guide me. Despite our circumstances (raised by a single parent), we had everything we needed and more.

I am stronger and wiser because of my father. I refuse to continue the cycle of pain. Instead, I am creating a cycle of love from the inside out. Everything I experience helped me have the convictions I have. Therefore, I am not gloomy this day and have not been for some time. I am grateful for the support I had growing up and continue to have as an adult. I am at peace about the relationship my father and I have.

I am grateful for the fathers who are being fathers even though they did not have one and the mothers who are doing the best they can without the father’s support. 

I encourage others who didn’t have their father to:

  1. Focus on what you have and work with that.
  2. What did you learn from not having your father in your life, and how can you be and do better with what you learned? 
  3. Take your pain and do the opposite. 

I am not here to minimize anyone’s experience but to help in maximizing our experiences for the greater good. 

What do you need to do to put your relationship with your father in a healthier perspective? What did you learn to do and not to do?

Make this lifetime great! You deserve a life of joy and peace despite your circumstances.

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How Can Chains Free You Instead of Imprison You?

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So have you ever done something that you regret? Of course, you have. That was a silly question on my part. Or was it? 

You can probably list several things you have done and wish you knew and did better or trusted yourself.

At one point during my nursing career, I worked for a local traveling agency. One day, the company sent me to a county clinic, and there I heard the words that further changed how I thought about life. I am unsure of everything I said to this Nurse Practitioner, but she must have sensed that I was complaining and feeling down. And without looking at me and further explaining herself, the Nurse Practitioner said, “they based their actions on what they knew.” Then, she walked away to take care of her client. She wasn’t mad at me. That’s how the truth is. The truth needs no explaining and only acceptance.

Her words sank in me. Our actions are based on what we know. I knew this principle because sometime after my sexual abuse experience, I wanted to be more conscious of life. I wanted to align with the Voice of Reason within me that knew all. I wanted to be free and live a life without excessive anger, fear, worrying, and others. Although I continued to struggle with some emotions, somewhere deep in me, I knew that excessive and lingering emotions were a waste of energy, money, and time. And life proved it to me.

This morning, my husband and I couldn’t help but notice the communication between several birds. I laid in bed for a few minutes, listening to the freedom I heard in their singing and speaking. Then, I remembered, “behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Mathew 6:26).

During prayer time, I remembered how I didn’t think about getting this or that as a child. Things just fell into place. At an early age, I started saying, “I’ll do my best, and God will handle the rest. I would also say, “God can make things right.” So, I stopped worrying about many stuff, and many emotions, including forgiveness, slipped away. And I lived my life, and other life events continued to test my newfound ways of thinking.

Our children often remind me of our natural, free spirit and how learning about life does not always lead to anger and guilt. 

So, how do you use chains to enable freedom instead of bondage? 

Each day, you realize that:

  1. It’s better to surrender to life than it is to fight it. So many of our emotions and feels are based on the nonacceptance of what is. 
  2. Live in the moment, which is all there is. The past is gone, and the future takes care of itself. Nothing you do will change what has already happened.
  3. Do the best you can and move on. Work with what you have. So many times growing up, we didn’t have the right tools (hammer, screwdriver), but we got the job done. We have more to work within ourselves than we think.
  4. Learn and plan, but do not obsess about things. Somehow things work out for the best. What you thought you wanted or couldn’t live without was not true.

I am happy to be alive. Each day is an opportunity to enjoy life instead of stressing over how, why, when, where, and who. As the bible says, do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Therefore, we can transform our life by changing our thoughts to bring more joy, peace, and understanding that our experiences do not define us. We define ourselves. 

Make this lifetime great!

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