Coming into the third month of quarantine has many people feeling restless, down, and antsy. Some of the activities we might be indulging in are having a negative impact on health and well-being, but it can be hard to know a good substitute for freshly baked cookies or an alcoholic beverage.
How can we unwind while supporting overall vitality?
We often turn to sweet treats during times of stress. This is no problem occasionally, but eating refined sugar regularly causes our bodies to react poorly. Sugar can depress the immune system, increase inflammation, dysregulate blood sugar and negatively affect mood.
However, not all sugars are created equal. Sugars that are minimally processed and in their natural state like raw honey, coconut sugar and beet sugar are high in vitamin and mineral content and have a lower glycemic index. Stevia comes from a plant and may actually help balance blood sugar! Applesauce can be used to sweeten baked goods and brings some fiber into play. Baking at home rather than buying pre-made goodies provides ample opportunity to select specific ingredients – recipes often turn out wonderfully with less than suggested amounts of sugar. Choosing flour like almond, coconut or whole wheat adds fiber and good fats into your treats. Avocado, coconut oil, safflower oil and cultured butter have more nutritional content and healthy fats than vegetable oil, spreads or margarine. Check out paleo or raw foods recipes to make your sweets more nutrient-dense.
Boredom and habitual drinking produce stale routines – make a Mocktail instead!
Alcohol consumption has been on the rise for many folks. This can interrupt restful sleep, deplete essential fatty acids and B vitamins, congest the liver, and depress mood. Boredom and the habit of having a drink can be routines that require a replacement. Discovering “mocktail” recipes can be a fun way to have something to drink that is different and fun to make.
A simple favorite, rich in anti-oxidants and trace minerals
A simple favorite is 1/3 cherry juice and 2/3 mineral water – high in anti-oxidants and trace minerals, this is a drink you can feel great about! If you are choosing to have alcohol, try having a glass of water in between each drink to help keep hydrated. Stop drinking alcohol at least an hour before bed so it’s less likely to disturb sleep. Schedule a night off alcohol all together to break the old routine.
Fresh, seasonal produce is readily available
We are coming into summer where fresh, seasonal produce is readily available – and more affordable! Go to the local farmers market and chat with the farmers – they are sure to have new foods to try and fantastic ideas for new recipes. Plus, when food is picked when ripened (not before), it has a higher nutrient content and much better flavor profile. Greens and other bitter foods can balance the palate and help us get off the salt-sugar seesaw.
Where do you feel stuck in a rut?
Looking at habits and digging underneath to discover what the real pleasure is for you – demarcating end of work day? Connection with loved one? Boredom? Low mood? Once you discover the real “why” behind choosing what you choose, you are more empowered to make choices that are more aligned with you and your health goals. Some ideas include making mocktails and sitting on porch instead of cocktail, taking a walk to change mood/energy, or have a dance party to mark the transition from work to relaxed time.
Sometimes all it takes is a little fresh perspective to spark creativity and inspiration again!
Dr Nicola Dehlinger, ND, graduated from SCNM in 2004. Dr Nicola sees clients from around the world in her naturopathic medical practice, Pura Vida Natural Healthcare, in Durango, CO. She is an expert in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. She is able to minimize supplements and medications as her patients become empowered to heal themselves. In addition to seeing clients, Dr Nicola leads group and private retreats. She also teaches a variety of online and in-person classes. In her free time, you can find Dr Nicola in the mountains or the kitchen, enjoying time with her husband, son, and their dogs. Website: www.puravidahealthcare.com