Independence Day is upon us, with hot sunshine and loved ones gathered with games to play. Between family barbecues, watermelon galore and smores over the campfire, each year in the United States we spend around $6.7 billion dollars on our midsummer feast.
But amidst all this celebration is a tricky detail we’re liable to forget: what we eat! Burgers, beers, brownies, queso dip, chips, hot dogs on hot dogs – the indulgence is never ending and can lead to feeling physically and mentally slow the following days. According to an article by Harvard Health, a diet high in refined sugars has been shown in multiple studies to not only impair brain function, but also aggravate symptoms of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.So, here are a few tips to help you keep your mind and body working their best:
- Veggies + dips = success – Whether you enjoy hummus, ranch, or guacamole, pair it with some carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices and you’ll have healthy fiber-packed options to keep bellies happy and energized. Want to up your health game even further? Check out this simple recipe for a healthy, probiotic packed veggie dip!
- Impress with a charcuterie board – Maybe veggies and dip is a bit basic for you. Why not try a charcuterie board? Centered around cured meats and cheeses, charcuterie boards often include other interesting, savory food items like fruits, vegetables, jams, and crackers. Whole wheats and healthy fats are great brain food, while charcuterie boards help ensure your party is one people will remember!
- Know how food affects you and what to avoid – Here’s a quick list of foods that are most harmful to your mental and physical health:
- Soda and sugary drinks full of excess sugar contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, and long-term problems with brain function
- Diet sodas rich in aspartame and other fake sugars are linked to cognitive and behavioral health issues
- Refined carbohydrates found in white bread, pastries, and other sugary desserts have high glycemic loads that spike blood pressure, increase obesity risk, and are correlated with lowered brain function over time
- Trans fats packed into junk foods, frosting, ready-made cakes, and pre-packaged cookies are tied to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory issues
- Alcohol is widely known for next-day effects like hangovers and stomach problems, but can also affect sleep quality or leave you with general brain fog
- Tell family and friends about your goals – If you are focused on eating well as you celebrate, tell your family and friends. They may want to join you, but if not, it’s important they’re aware you aim to eat healthy so they respect your boundaries and avoid tempting you with unhealthier options.
- If you’re tempted to eat more, take a break – If you’re fighting the temptation to eat unhealthy food or eat more than you normally do, take some time to yourself to check in with your body. Maybe it’s a quick walk around the neighborhood or time alone in your car.
- Indulge with moderation – Sometimes the day isn’t complete without holiday staples. If a 4th of July without a cheeseburger or beer feels wrong, you don’t have to hold yourself back from those things, just enjoy in moderation. Try changing your portion to something smaller so you can have your cake and eat it too – go with half a cheeseburger or just one drink.
Looking for help as you learn what foods are right for you on your path to improved mental health? Heading Health offers science-based nutritional therapy focused on high-quality, nutrient-dense foods that provide the key vitamins and minerals needed to heal your body and the brain from the inside out. Learn more about nutritional therapy and request your appointment by giving us a call at 855-204-2502.
Happy Independence Day from Heading Health!