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The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

Yes, food really does affect your mood.

When you think about what effects your mental health, the typical answers are stress, self-esteem, and relationship issues, to name but a few, however, we often underestimate the impact that food has on our mental health. When you consider the science behind it and the growing evidence that food has a greater effect on our mental health than we give credit for, I think we could all check what we are fuelling our bodies with.

There is no doubt that what we eat has an impact on our mental health, this link has been proven repeatedly. A review of studies looking into the issue of diet and mental health found that regular consumption of a Western diet (a diet consisting of highly processed and sugary foods) increased the risk of depression (O’Neil et al., 2014). Moreover, a poor diet is proven to impact biological mechanisms that are commonly associated with depression such as impacting the immune system and altering the levels of certain brain proteins potentially leading to depressive symptoms (O’Neil et al., 2014). This further strengthens the link between diet and mental health.

Moreover, some of the factors that contribute to poor mental health, such as stress, have been proven to influence food preferences. For example, a study by Kandiah, Yake, and Meyer (2006) found that when participants were not exposed to stress they made healthy dietary choices 80% of the time compared to when participants were exposed to stress, which they made healthy food choices only 33% of the time. This highlights an issue, the fact that something like stress can lead to poor mental health, yet when we experience stress we tend to eat unhealthier options, also negatively impacting our mental health. Therefore, healthier dietary choices could break this cycle as evidenced by Ansari, Adetunji, and Oskrochi (2014) who found that when fruit and vegetables weren’t consumed on a regular basis, there was a greater association with experiencing more depressive symptoms for both males and females.

Although there is little research on a diet that has been proven to reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms and promote better mental health, there have been studies conducted on specific foods. For example, the following foods have all been linked to better mental health when in their raw form; carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit (Brookie, Best & Conner, 2018).

I hope you found this an interesting read,

Jazzy B ❤

References:

Kandiah, J., Yake, M., & Meyer, M. (2006). Stress influences appetite and comfort food preferences in college women.  Nutrition Research, 28(1), 118-123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2005.11.010 

Ansari, W.E, Adetunji, H., Oskrochi, R. (2014). Food and mental health: Relationship between food and perceived stress and depressive symptoms among university students in the United Kingdom. Central European Journal of Public Health, 22(2), 90-97.

O’Neil, A., Quirk, S.E., Houseden, S., Brennan, S.L., Williams, L.J., Pasco, J.A., Berk, M., & Jacka, F.N.(2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: A Systematic Review. The American Journal of Public Health, 104(10).

Brookie, K.L., Best, G.I., Conner, T.S. (2018). Intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health than intake of processed fruits and vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(1). doi: https://doaj.org/article/956172bb66c747b1a3efbf9a4a4d9023

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How to Stay Motivated

I think we have all experienced a time where motivation levels reach an all-time low. A lack of motivation can make you feel so far from your goals, but this is most certainly not the case and a simple change in your outlook can help almost immediately. Hopefully,  this post will help you to get out of a motivation rut, and back to feeling unstoppable.

1) Acknowledgment

It is okay to feel unmotivated. I think when people feel unmotivated they fixate on this rather than the solution, or cause, but change how you choose to view your lack of motivation can easily overcome this feeling. Try and think if there is anything that might be directly affecting your level of motivation e.g, work stress, life changes, tiredness, no matter how big or small, any reason is valid. However, it may also be the case that you can’t think of anything that is negatively affecting your motivational drive, and again this is fine – motivation is not constant, and thank goodness not too, as we’d all be exhausted! It may be the last thing you want to do to try and rebuild your motivation, but to have a break from the gym, and thinking about fitness/goals can be the best thing. This time out will allow for you to feel refreshed, and ready to smash some fitness goals!

2) Change your workout routine 

Often, when we get settled into a fitness routine, it is very easy to become complacent. Ironically, comfort zones can be dangerous places! If you’re doing the same workouts day, in day out, it is inevitable that your motivation will decrease. Not only will this cause mental complacency, but your body will stop responding the way it used to, as it also becomes used to the same routine. You will notice the benefits of mixing up your workouts as the body responds best when it is challenged. There are so many ways to change the way you workout such as training with a friend, trying a new workout, even changing the time you normally train can make a difference.

3) Setting realistic goals

Having a goal to work towards increases my motivation so much! Make the goal specific to you, and really focus on achieving this. The goal can be anything from a new personal best, to simply going to the gym a certain amount of times in a week. It is also important that the goals you set are achievable whilst still have an element of challenge to them. Fitness journals are a great way to record your progress, goals, and achievements, as it can be so easy to forget how far we’ve come!

4) Reward yourself

Closely related to setting goals is rewarding yourself when you achieve them! All work and no play is most definitely not fun, so when you reach a goal, give yourself a reward. My reward always seems to be new gym leggings, you can never have enough :’)

4) Take it back to the beginning

What made you start your fitness journey? How motivated did you feel when you first started getting into fitness? It’s about rekindling that initial drive that got you started and reminding yourself exactly why you do what you do. For me, I always try and be the best version of myself that I can, when I workout it’s a celebration of what my body can do!

Thank you for reading, and I hope this post has helped you in some way,

Jazzy B ❤

 

Blog

Foodie Finds – January 2018

Finally, January is drawing to a close (I swear January feels like it lasts forever!). I hope you’re still smashing those new years resolutions!? Start how you mean to go on 😉 Here are my favourite goodies that I found this month, hopefully, there is something in here that you’d like to try!

1) Cashew butter 27606311_1804433356297582_1207497849_o

There are so many nut butters available it’s starting to make peanut butter look boring! I found this in my local Tesco for £2.50 which is not a bad price at all! They also do a crunchy version, if that is your thing. I love how sweet this tastes, compared to peanut butter. It tastes even better when on some toast topped with banana and blueberries.

2) Somebody Watermelon Water27651210_1804433069630944_1282670357_o

Curiosity got the better of me on this one 😉 Admittedly, it is not as sweet as I thought it would be, however, I do like that fact that it has added L-carnitine ( know for its fat loss properties). Although don’t expect to lose weight when drinking this, as it is added in such a small quantity! :’)

 

3) Tetley Matcha Green Tea27605114_1804433236297594_1647706051_o

I love green tea. To me this doesn’t taste a lot different to regular green tea, it definitely has a smoother taste, however.  I’ve always wanted to try matcha green tea, but it’s so expensive, so I think I’ve found my solution ;). Whatsmore, with added Matcha, it makes drinking a cup of this a day even more beneficial to your health! definitely worth a go, if you’re wanting to try the whole matcha thing!

4) Meridian Peanut and Cocoa Bar27651286_1804433089630942_1641019658_o 

This tasted amazing! It has a really nice chocolatey taste to it, and you can really taste the peanuts. The two complement each other really well! Also, it’s not bad on the protein front with 6g per bar, making it the perfect chocolate treat.

 

Thank you for reading,

Jazzy B ❤

Blog

5 Things to Instantly Make You Feel Healthier

Let’s face it, new year and Christmas have been and gone, we all indulged (as you should too!) but now you’re wanting to get back on track and start the new year how you mean to go on. If you’re like me, I like to feel my best rather rapidly after the post-Christmas chocolate binge, although this may take more than a cup of green tea, with these 5 feel-good tips you’ll be well on your way.

IMG_09731) Lemon water and honey

I love starting my day off with half a slice of lemon in some hot water with a drizzle of honey, not only does it smell so refreshing but it’s so invigorating not to rely on caffeine to start the day. There are many benefits to the lemon and honey combo, as it helps digestion, prevents acne, and boosts immunity. It’s also known to detoxify the liver (great for those who are not doing so well at dry January or had a few too many at Christmas ;))

2) Snack wellIMG_3901

This one is very tricky when there is a half-eaten box of celebrations calling your name. To overcome this, I’ll put all of the leftover Christmas goodies in one cupboard and pray that out of sight out of mind really works ;). I’ll also do a food shop for my healthy essentials, and fill the fridge with wholesome, nourishing foods to encouraging healthy snacking once again!

IMG_83843) Include a side salad with every meal

This is also a great tip for portion control, as the portion sizes become far more generous over the festive period! Not only does it make your plate nice and colourful, but it makes you conscious of how much food you have on your plate. Of course, salads don’t have to be boring either, I’ve noticed lots of lower calorie salad dressings hitting the supermarket shelves which will most definitely spice up any bland salad! For me, a salad is not complete with avocado (my obsession lately)!

4) ExerciseIMG_9573

Possibly the last thing you want to be thinking about after a lovely Christmas, but for me, nothing can beat that post-workout feeling. Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour of cardio on the dreadmill, it can be something simple like going for a walk or jog! Also, if you’re not quite ready to go back to the gym, Youtube offers a great selection of workout videos. A few channels that I recommend you subscribe to include ‘Group Hiit’, ‘The Bodycoach TV’ and ‘FitnessBlender’. They each offer loads of workouts lasting about 20 minutes, which is a great way to start your day.

 

5) Relaxation

IMG_8778Being a psychology student, of course to me health is so much more than physical. There is a study by Holmes and Rahe (1967) in which Christmas makes it onto the list of the main life events that people rated caused them the most stress! Therefore, it is so important to take time out for yourself, not only over the festive period but all year round. Some options that I find work best are getting lost in a good book, having a candle-lit bubble bath, doing 30 minutes of yoga or guided meditation (again a quick youtube search will bring up thousands of guided meditation walk-throughs). When I do yoga, I use an app called ‘Yoga Studio’ that costs £5.00 on the App Store and Google Play, I love the fact that you can do it in your own home, too!

I hope you’ve found this post useful,

Jazzy B ❤

Blog

Cooking with Quorn

If you couldn’t tell already from my Instagram page, I am OBSESSED with Quorn. I think they offer such as a large variety of meat-free substitutes, that it makes it so much easier to stop/reduce your meat consumption.Whenever I talk to people about cooking with Quorn, they’re always a bit skeptical. So this blog post is for those of you who are unsure as to how to incorporate this fabulous food into your diet.

There are so many advantages to cooking with Quorn, a few include:

  • Cheaper than meat
  • lower in saturated fat than meat
  • very versatile – can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • high fibre content
  • guilt free

Cooking with Quorn is so simple. I love the innovations that the company is always coming out with, they now even do a whole vegan range. Also, they have bacon, chicken slices for sandwiches and snacks such as scotch eggs and cocktail sausages (which taste amazing!) It makes committing to these dietary choices so much easier, knowing that you can still have something that will provide you with protein, and far less saturated fat per serving.

Cooked BreakfastIMG_6755

Who doesn’t love a nice cooked brekkie?! For me, veggie sausages make a cooked breakfast SO much better, you also don’t feel bad for eating them as they a great in terms of macros. Plus, they make the best sausage sandwiches.

 

IMG_7269

 

Roast Dinner

A nice Sunday roast with all the trimmings, please. Yep, still possible with Quorn. On my roast, I will have a Quorn chicken fillet with everything else that usually goes on a roast! Also, it makes cooking a roast far easier if you only have to put a Quorn chicken fillet in the oven.

Spaghetti Bolognese24321736_1727072897366962_2087718851_o

This is a classic midweek winner, that you don’t have to miss out on if you’re vegetarian.  According to the Quorn website, when this dish is made with Quorn mince, it contains 90% less saturated fat than regular mince! When I make this dish for friends or family…I always tell them it’s made with real mince,  and half the time they don’t even notice 😉

24818822_1730014770406108_37254609_oChicken Curry

Curry is another classic that I couldn’t live without.  Quorn chicken pieces are great in curries, and reduce the cooking time by a lot…a win-win ;). The recipe for this red lentil and chicken curry dish can be found here, I highly recommend this as a mid-week dish as it is so easy and cheap.

 

As you become used to cooking with Quorn, you’ll realise that the possibilities are endless, you don’t have to stick to vegetarian recipes either, as Quorn work perfectly when subbed into recipes that would normally contain meat. Thank you for reading, and I hope I’ve inspired you to give Quorn products a go, even if it is only for one meal per week,

Jazzy B ❤

 

Blog

Pretty Little Picnic

There is something so lovely about having a picnic: The sun shining down, all the food, spending time with friends. I think we could all do with giving ourselves more time to escape to the country for an hour or two, and what better reason than to have a picnic?

IMG_7205In my eyes picnics are so underrated, although admittedly dependent on the weather, they’re so simple to organise that you could easily arrange one of an afternoon. As a student, I’m always thinking of things to do which are affordable, and this most definitely is! Everyone can provide some food, and before you know it you’ve got a tasty feast.

When organising a picnic, I prefer to have it somewhere quieter that also allows you to go for a leisurely stroll afterward, so a nice location is key. But I also have invited friends round to have one in my garden, they can be as simple as you make them.IMG_7165

A friend and I set up our picnic blanket in the afternoon sunshine in a quiet field (would recommend not having it on someones private land, which we unknowingly did…oops!) and had a lovely catch up and giggle, whilst of course munching on all the lovely food.

As you can see, our picnic for two was virtually effortless and was done only using foods that we had available. We had fruit kebabs, my homemade caramel brownie protein balls , Go Ahead chocolate crunchy dippers (which tasted amazing), and some refreshing summer fruits squash.

Once we had eaten as much as we could, we then went for a walk along the Wey & Arun canal in West Sussex, which was absolutely beautiful.

I felt so peaceful after doing so, and I hope I’ve inspired you to get outside and see the beauty that is all around us,

Jazzy B ❤

 

 

Blog, Snacks

Strange Snacks

I am such a snacker. Snacks are what keep me going throughout the day, as I prefer to eat smaller meals, and then have a couple of healthy snacks in between. Often, I’ll just stick to my Staple Snacks, but as with everything you’ve got to mix things up to keep them interesting. So here are a few of what I like to call ‘strange’ snacks, as they aren’t you’re typical piece of fruit 😉

Seaweed Thins

These make the perfect snack for when you’re a little bit peckish, they’re very light and I just find the concept of eating seaweed so novel. Also, in my opinion, they look so much better than your bog-standard crisp…they’re Green! Normally, they come flavoured with sea salt, but I have tried some green tea infused thins before which were just as lovely.

IMG_7255Go Ahead Crunchy Dippers

Something a little sweet! When I saw these I just had to give them a go, especially as most snacks with breadsticks are savoury, and as I have a massive sweet tooth…they had me at hello ;). They are so worth the 148 calories, the perfect pick-me-up. Don’t fear if chocolate isn’t your thing, as they also have salted caramel and coconut and vanilla dippers…yum!

Protein Bars

IMG_7084
Yes…that is a Mars protein bar you see, and it is the bomb!

My new obsession. If I have had a really good gym session or I fancy some chocolate (always ;)), then I will reward myself with one of these bars of heaven. My favourite brands are Grenade, Quest, Mars, and Fulfil, as I find these all have the lowest sugar content and the highest protein. They can be quite expensive at £2.50 a bar, but it’s SO worth it. Also, if you haven’t tried heating one up the microwave you definitely should, it turn into a gooey chocolate pudding.

 

IMG_7287Walkers Poppadoms

These really are sensational, the flavour combinations work wonderfully together. Also, they’re only 63 calories and I’ve never seen a packet of crisps that low. If anything I would try them for the flavours, they’re unlike anything I’ve tasted.

 

So that concludes my strange snack round-up, I hope you’ve found something to spice up your snack cupboard (yes…I have a whole cupboard dedicated to snacks aha), until next time,

Jazzy B ❤