It may not be what you’re eating but what’s eating you.
One patient learned that very quickly while he was lying in bed, still groggy from the effects of his recent operation. When the doctor walked into his hospital room, looking glum, the doctor said, “I can’t be sure what’s wrong with you. I think it’s the drinking.”
“Okay,” the patient replied, “Then can we get an opinion from a doctor who’s sober?”
We can laugh at the silliness of the misinterpreted emotions and stresses going on, but our emotions and stressors are not silly. They are ancient functions of the brain that have one major purpose: to help us survive, if they are handled effectively.
1. Emotions can be good.
If you handle your emotions well, they focus your attention on the important things that can affect sense of safety and well being. And once your emotions have gotten your attention, they can motivate you to do whatever you need to do about those “important” factors in your world … such as speed up your heart rate to run away from danger or pump up your adrenalin to help you achieve that goal you’ve always wanted to achieve.
2. Stressful emotions can be a huge source of trouble.
As Daniel Goleman, the lead researcher on Emotional Intelligence, points out, “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand … if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions … then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
In fact, negative emotions can even make you hungry and overweight. Studies show that two-thirds of people eat more than usual when they are stressed out.
Technically speaking, cortisol is released during chronic stress, which stimulates your appetite. Your body tries to replace the energy that is being consumed by the stress. Unfortunately, cortisol has a long half-life, which means you’ll keep on feeling hungry and keep on eating long after the stress is over.
And to make things worse, you’ll keep on eating high calorie fatty foods or sweet treats. Those excess calories are usually deposited in the worst places such as your abdomen and extra fat cells around your middle. Perhaps that’s why one person remarked, “Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist switch places.”
We can chuckle at that line, but we all know that excess fat in the wrong places in the body increase your chances of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and a host of things that will prevent you from having the life you want.
Now you may be thinking this is a strange topic for me to address in today’s “Tuesday Tip.” All this talk about emotions and foods. Nonetheless, I’m constantly researching what works and doesn’t work when it comes to work-life balance issues because one of my most popular programs is “Take This Job and Love It! A Program For Managing Stress and Balancing Life … On and Off The Job.”
The good news is … there is one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to manage your emotions and your stresses more effectively.
3. Eat consciously and conscientiously.
After all, you would never think of putting kerosene in the gas tank of your car and expect to drive it across the United States. Likewise, you can’t fill your tummy with junk fuel and expect to make it through life with all the energy and sharpness you need for extraordinary success.
Simply put, you’ve got to put the right foods in to get the right results out. And despite all the controversy over good foods, bad foods, and crazy diet fads, the medical community has a fair amount of agreement over a particular food regimen that is the best for your overall mental health. It actually decreases your chances of depression and negative emotions. It’s the so-called Mediterranean diet.
In essence, it emphasizes:
- eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts,
- replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil,
- eating fish and poultry at least twice a week,
- limiting your red meat consumption to no more than a few times each month,
- using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food, and
- drinking red wine in moderation, if at all.
Now get this: I am NOT prescribing this diet. I’m not a medical doctor. But if you’re struggling with too many stressors and too many negative emotions in your life, check out this eating regimen. It may be the answer you’re looking for.
As author Joseph Bruchac says in his book, “At the Edge of Ridge Road,” “One step in the right direction, if continued, leads away from the path of destruction.”
Finally, in addition to taking care of your body, if you want a high quality life, you must also…
4. Take proper care of your brain.
Too many of my clients complain about forgetting things … or having “brain fog” or … not being as sharp as they used to be. And that’s not good. A great career, successful relationships, and a meaningful life all depend on having your mind work for you instead of against you.
Dharma Singh Khalsa may have found a way to care for your brain and/or reverse any brain malfunctions you may be experiencing. In his book, “Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory,” Khalsa says our brains, like the rest of our body, need to be cared for and can be strengthened.
In particular, the brain chemical most responsible for clear thinking and memory is acetylcholine. He says, “If you don’t have enough acetylcholine in your brain, you will definitely suffer from memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. In fact, a deficit of acetylcholine is probably the single most common cause of age-related cognitive impairment.”
Thankfully, restoring acetylchloine to a proper level is easy and can be done in just a matter of a few hours. All you have to do is ingest a few specific nutrients from which acetylcholine is made. He puts it into a simple formula, where he says “lecithin + vitamin B5 + vitamin C is an absolute must for anyone on a brain longevity program.”
More precisely, the doctor suggests taking 2500 to 3000 mg of lecithin four times daily. And then take vitamin C, 1000 mg three times a day, and vitamin B5, 100 mg per day, with your lecithin because these vitamins are needed to transform lecithin into acetylcholine.
Years ago, the human relations expert Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” That may be true, but until now, almost no one has investigated the link between one’s emotions and one’s food. It appears to be a very important link that should no longer be overlooked.
Over the centuries, we’ve learned how to make a living, but all too often we have not learned how to make a life. A big part of the answer is to be found in the management of your emotions, your stress, your food, and your brain. Don’t leave them to chance.