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

Photo by Jane D. on

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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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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See The Distractions For What They Are

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We interact with many people during our lifetime. Some walk alongside us, leading us to greater clarity, conviction, determination, and perseverance to achieve what we believe is possible. Some work with us, extending the vision that there is enough for all. All life has a divine purpose. We work together to make this world a better place. We hold unto the mustard seed of faith (KJV, Mathew 17:20), despite those who doubt us. We stand out from the crowd, avoiding “fitting in” because deep down inside, we know we already belong to something greater than the world. Our birth justifies our magnificence presence on this earth. We are not what others say about us or what they do to us. We are who we say we are. We are not our experiences, and we avoid labeling the moments in our lives that awaken us. Instead, we see our experiences as the catapults to unveil our true nature. 

We move forward despite what others say about us. We know that if they remembered who they are, they too would walk the path of greater resistance. We may experience a few blows and knockouts, but we rise again all because we know we can. We do not succumb to our emotions, feelings, and pain. Instead, we use them to direct our paths and help others find their way. We do not have to fit the mold, but stand as the co-Creator to create masterpieces. We know that our work is not in vain, for everything is used to awaken those asleep.

We are more than our experiences. Keep the faith, for all things are possible to him (and her) who believeth. (KJV, Mark 9:23)

As a student of life committed to living her purpose, I am not bitter about growing up without my father, experiencing childhood sexual abuse, or being raised by a single parent. I am better because: 

  1. I know what it feels like not to receive a parent’s guidance, love, and protection. So, I am here for my children, and they will know I love them. 
  2. I know what it’s like to be forced and manipulated to do something. So I encourage people to align with their moral compass instead of forcing them to do something. 
  3. I know that if my mother can raise three children off minimum wage, provide the necessities of life and more, and teach us life principles, I can, too.

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