I MATTER: My Nutrition, My Sleep, My Energy
So, you are faithfully taking your medications as prescribed, you are seeing a therapist weekly, and you are working hard to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Sometimes we can get so caught up in making sure that we are doing everything we are told to do, that some of the more basic yet very likely most significant aspects of maintaining stability are overlooked. Indeed, areas to pay close attention to may seem so simple that they can be missed. A reminder that taking care of you, and daily reminding yourself that “I matter” means taking the time to attend to basic self care and honoring your basic needs. This can significantly reduce some of the major triggers of mood disturbance. Three basic areas of focus include knowing and understanding your own nutritional needs and digestion rhythms; knowing, understanding and regulating your own sleep patterns, and knowing, understanding and making room for your daily energy rhythms.
Today, we will be reminded of some basics and encouraged to consider yourself important enough to guard your healthy food rhythm: Mood + Food. Following, will be a post for regulating sleep patterns, and then one that addresses honoring your own unique daily energy rhythm.
Many readers here already have ample access and are actively involved in understanding proper nutrition. What I want to emphasize here is that we must also protect our “right” to eat what and how we know is best for our own unique metabolism. Why? Because paying attention to our own unique dietary needs and maintaining a eating routine that honors our own metabolism and digestive rhythms is directly related to mood regulation. The idea here is that when an individual understands her/his own unique nutritional needs and is able to regulate his/her own meal times, he/she is better able to manage a physiological and emotional structure throughout the day. This not only supports a sense and feeling of mood stability throughout the day by encouraging a structure with daily routine, blood sugar, hormonal, and bio-neuro-chemical balance, but may also contribute significantly to maintaining healthy sleep patterns. Maladaptive sleep patterns can put an individual at risk of triggering a depressive or manic episode, or of triggering intense mood swings and irritability. More on that in our next blog.
Reminders + Helpful Links:
1. Avoid eating meals just prior to bedtime: in one research project, it was concluded that food intake in the evening time/night time is correlated with a negative quality of sleep in healthy individuals.[i] And this, as mentioned, can affect your vulnerability to triggering mood dysregulation.
2. Establish a regular eating pattern. For some this might mean three main meals a day, with two small snacks; for others this might mean six small meals a day. The idea is to regulate your blood sugar, bio-neuro-chemistry, and hormone production as this has a direct correlation to your mood. Tuning into how our own body responds and digests meals is crucial. For example, after a meal, the brain chemical responsible for alertness is suppressed, when one becomes very hungry, blood sugar is low and can cause irritability and mood swings.
3. Incorporate whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Although you may be hearing this over and over again, the truth of the matter is that it is becoming more and more difficult to do this as our lives become busier than ever and we turn to easy alternatives to quench our hunger. Incorporating food shopping as a healthy activity may very well be the solution to this problem as many people find it more and more difficult to find time to actually shop and pay attention to what they are buying for food. By consciously carving out no stress food shopping time, that even includes stops at organic food growers, as an actual recreational activity, with the mindset to enjoy the process; we might be able to overcome some of the obstacles to finding healthy food that does not contain so much sugar and starch and chemicals.
More Reading and Helpful Links:
Cibele Aparecida Crispim, Ph.D.1,2; Ioná Zalcman Zimberg, M.S.1; Bruno Gomes dos Reis, R.D.1; Rafael Marques Diniz, R.D.1; Sérgio Tufik, Ph.D.1; Marco Túlio de Mello, Ph.D.1