One in five Australians will experience mental illness this year and it is an issue many workplaces are now taking very seriously. In 2015, Mental Health Week will run from Sunday 4th to Saturday 10th October. World Mental Health Day is marked every year on the same date, 10th of October. The week aims to raise awareness and understanding of the issues facing so many. Anyone can get involved, all you need is an interest in your own good health and wellbeing. We all have a role to play in looking after our mental health - eating a nourishing, balanced diet, exercising, getting adequate rest and being kind to yourself and those around you. These all sound good, but in reality they often get forgotten in our busy lives. In the lead up to World Mental Health Day focus on a simple activity that would benefit you - make a mental health promise to yourself. It might be writing a gratitude journal, walking for half an hour several times per week, cutting your sugar intake, signing up for yoga, downloading (and using) a mindfulness app or committing to be kind to yourself and your colleagues. Simple actions and intentions can have powerful consequences.
At Corporate Chillout we can visit your workplace and activate, educate and engage your staff in some simple (and sometimes surprising) ways to nurture their physical and mental wellbeing. During Mental Health Week we can also send daily motivational messages directly to your in box. Let us provide the inspiration for your staff to work on their own personal sustainability.
See below (youtube clip) for our gift to you ... a five minute meditation with Toby Wallace, Chillout Meditation and Yoga Teacher.
It’s not just your waist line eating a poor diet can impact upon. Research now suggests that depression and dementia are affected by the quality of our diets. Indeed, studies from countries as diverse as Norway, Spain, Japan, China, England, America and Australia show people whose diets are healthier are less likely to experience depression. Research also shows that people who eat a more unhealthy diet, high in junk foods are at increased risk of depression. Processed foods – high in sugar, fat, salt foods - not only undermine your optimal nutritional status, but impact upon our mental wellbeing.
So, it really is true you are what you eat. Most people fail to realize that your gut is quite literally your second brain, and actually has the ability to significantly influence your mind, mood and behavior. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! So it actually makes perfect sense that eating a healthy diet to nourish your gut flora for optimal serotonin function will have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behaviour. In fact, recent studies have shown foods and drinks rich in probiotics can play a role in curbing social anxiety in young adults.
Aim to include fermented foods in your diet on a regular basis. You can try making some of these foods yourself or visit your local health food store, they generally to stock a large range. It won’t just be your digestive system that reaps the rewards.
- Natural Yoghurt and Coconut Yoghurt
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. By focusing on the here and now, many people find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
Click below to enjoy a 5 minute meditation with Toby Wallace, Chillout Meditation and Yoga Teacher.
Meditation and Yoga
Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on our body. By encouraging relaxation, it helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This has many related benefits including lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia. Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind/body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory. The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more satisfying place in their lives.
So your day on a plate has looked pretty good so far. You have eaten some complex carbohydrates (wheat free where possible), plenty of protein (with vegetarian options), good fats, vegetables and a serve or two of fresh fruit. Now you want something a little extra, a reward at the end of a busy day. Let’s face it, we all love a sweet treat now and then! Eating a healthy, nutritious diet doesn’t have to mean never having sugar again. To me it is all about balance – a ‘clean eating’, ‘whole food’ diet can still include some indulgence. Of course those sweet treats shouldn’t be daily, but you really can enjoy some guilt free deliciousness occasionally. Here are a few of my nutritional tricks of the trade to keep your healthy treats just that – healthy.
By including protein you help ensure your blood sugar levels are balanced. Protein keeps you feeling full for longer by increasing your brain’s levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you when your belly is full. It helps you avoid those blood sugar highs and lows that so often come with eating sweet foods. Try to include some nuts, nut butters, LSA, hemp seeds, coconut flour, seeds or a dollop or two of yoghurt with your treats.
Who would have thought eating chocolate could be good for you! I love cooking with raw cacao because, not only do I love dark chocolate, it has amazing health benefits. Raw cacao is dark chocolate in its most unrefined form and to the Aztecs, it was the food of the Gods. Some of its many health benefits include:
So kick back, relax and enjoy some raw cacao deliciousness knowing your mood will naturally be uplifted, your nervous system nourished and free radicals banished.
Another superfood that helps to keep you feeling full for longer! Good quality virgin coconut oil is more satiating than simple carbohydrates and sugars. It contains medium-chain fatty acid (MCTs), whereas most saturated fats are long chain-fatty acids. These MCTs are more easily metabolized, providing quicker energy, improved blood sugar regulation and are not typically stored as body fat. When combined with protein, it you can fuel your energy reserves properly, and get you off the sugar roller coaster. Even better, a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Researchers found that participants who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more kilojoules than those who consumed less. Coconut oil will not turn rancid and oxidize when heated, unlike many other oils (including olive oil), so it is ideal for heating and baking. Try using it instead of butter when making goodies like Anzac cookies, muesli slice and hedgehog.
There really is no excuse for using white, refined table sugar any more as there are just so many mineral rich, low glycaemic alternatives out there. Think maple syrup, coconut sugar, organic cold pressed honey, agave nectar and brown rice syrup. Brown Rice Syrup is a fabulous substitute for sugar and one of my favourites. As the name suggests, it is a whole food derived from brown rice. Even better it is completely fructose free (hooray!) and has a low glycaemic level, so it doesn’t send you off into the crazy blood sugar highs and lows that sugar can. I use Pure Harvest Brown Rice Syrup. The taste is not as sweet as other sweeteners and that is one of its added benefits. This ‘reduced’ sweetness gives your body (and your taste buds) a chance to adapt and not need those sugar hits for instant energy pick-me-ups
There is a reason why this is my final point – the only way you can really control the health and nutritional content of your treats is to make them yourself. As always, if you have children I really encourage you to get them cooking with you. They can help you choose the recipe, shop and then create. Talk to them about the ingredients you are using and their health benefits, there really is no better nutritional ‘education’ than learning to cook a ‘whole-food’ diet with your parents. As Jamie Oliver likes to say “pass it on”.
Here is one of my absolute favourite healthy, sweet treats using all the elements I discussed. Enjoy!
Raw Cocoa Fruit & Nut Slice
1 cup raw macadamia nuts
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 tbsp each chia seeds and flaxseeds, ground
1 cup coconut
16 prunes, pitted
10 fresh dates, pitted
¼ to ½ cup water
2 tbsp rice syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup raw cacao
1 tbsp cold pressed coconut oil
1. Place macadamias, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds and coconut in food processor until broken up into crumb size. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed.
2. Press evenly into a plastic container 30cm x 20cm, cut lines for squares and refrigerate. When firm, remove and break into squares and place in air tight container
Lindy Cook is a Naturopath, Nutritionist and Director of Corporate Chillout.