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Changing your mindset about food and healthy eating to feel better every day

In our most recent lunch and learn session at Spabreaks.com HQ, the lovely Geraldine from treatyourselfbrighton.com talked about changing the way we think about food. In particular, she spoke about foods that make us feel good, but also about reframing our thoughts about foods that have often been demonised by fad diets, like chocolate and even bananas and nuts. Here’s what Geraldine had to say about changing the way we think about food and healthy eating so that we can feel our best throughout the working day…

“I have been a massage therapist for 16 years, and I used to run a clinic in Brighton when I started doing a lot of work with corporate organisations. I wanted to help inspire people who lead quite a sedentary life in an office, to get them back into their bodies. Getting people moving through yoga and massage, and to encourage them to find ways to move throughout the day. That organically led into talking about food, nutrition and healthy eating as well.

Food is something that’s close to my heart. I’ve been on my own journey with it over the years and I feel that I found equilibrium about five years ago. I started looking at the food I was eating and how it can impact mood throughout the day. I’m passionate about how we can make small changes without putting pressure on ourselves. Language is very important - rather than demonising certain foods, it should be about a balanced, informed and positive outlook.”

Benefits of eating chocolate

“There has been a bit of a negative thing around confectionery, especially recently. But if we buy really good quality chocolate and have a little of it, it can be a very positive thing. It contains so many good nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc. It can actually help brain function, it doesn’t spike insulin levels and it boosts your mood.

It’s also the ultimate comfort food, which is not something that should be dismissed as part of healthy eating. If you make the decision to get really high quality dark chocolate, not only is it good for you in many respects, but it feels like a treat and you also need less of it. Chocolate should not be seen as a sin. I see it as a beautiful treat that I have a couple of times a week. “

Benefits of eating nuts

“Obviously there’s a myriad of nuts out there and all of them have their own merits. However, in general nuts are an excellent food to have, but people are wary because of the perception of a high calorie content. Nuts contain all the good fats that help to boost your mood. Cashews and walnuts, for example, contain selenium, calcium and vitamin B.

They are also great for filling you up. You don’t get the quick range of insulin of fast release sugars, which then lead to a slump afterwards. Choosing to have a handful of nuts as a snack mid morning or afternoon, instead of a biscuit, is a small change to have something healthy that makes you feel good.”

Benefits of eating bananas

“Bananas are so good for you, and they’re also really accessible/easy to take to work thanks to their skins. Ease is really important when it comes to having feel-good foods during a busy day. They’re a great source of potassium and vitamin C, they’re good for digestion and they’re excellent for boosting energy. I also think watermelon is great. It contains as much potassium as bananas and it’s another food that’s really good for your mood. It’s also good for hydration, which is a bonus in air conditioned offices.

So many of us eat for emotional reasons. I think it’s about changing the language and perception about what we’re eating and really enjoying those changes without using negative language about what we put into our bodies. If you make little changes like these in your diet, try to make a mental note about how it makes you feel about food at the time and a few hours later, you may be surprised.”

Top tips for healthy eating at work:

  • Get rid of the concept of a ‘diet’ in the restrictive context. It’s a negative word and it can set us up for feelings of failure.
  • Start by just replacing a few little things that you’re used to doing instead of trying to change everything. Play with food and find things that you like that make you feel good. For example, try swapping your crisps for cashews and see how they make you feel.
  • Don’t count calories. Eat to feel well and listen to your body.
  • Choose foods in lots of different colours (natural ones), that’s how you get all the nutrients. It’s known as ‘eating the rainbow’.
  • Opt for products with high quality ingredients. Butter instead of spreads for example, avoid factory food. I try to think about the Mediterranean diet - having things like olive oil and cheeses, but all locally made and beautifully prepared.
  • Try not to court that common cycle of eating something and feeling bad about it. Try to interrupt that thought process and enjoy what you eat.
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