Are you breathing? REALLY breathing? Long-and-deep-in-and-out-through-your-nose-breathing. And add this component in, as well: close your eyes and focus your breath at your heart center. This will get you to focus your attention there, rather than you head and will create a deeper sense of calm.

One of my patients had the word ‘breathe’ tattooed on her wrist, and I loved working with her and seeing that tattoo because it reminded me to keep breathing. And then my sister bought me an engraved rock with ‘breathe’ on it so that “I didn’t have to get a tattoo”. I’m not a tattoo person, so this was a great alternative for me……although I still think about it some days.

For you, whatever it takes….a bracelet to wear on your wrist, a tattoo, a phone reminder…remember to keep breathing throughout the day.

But what I really want to support you in, this week, is transforming your eating and drinking patterns to help maximize your health journey. Specifically, we’re looking at healing anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia in this series of posts and focusing on diet and food this week.

Last week, I shared a list of foods and drinks to add into your daily routine that can help calm your nervous system, soothe your digestion and start balancing your blood sugar and hormones. This week, I’m going to lay out the list of ‘bad stuff’. Ok, maybe ‘bad’ isn’t the right word….let’s maybe say ‘avoid’???

I’ve learned that everything in moderation is ok. Whether it’s social media, exercise, sleeping, sugar, or unpleasant people, we can normally balance and recalibrate from interactions that strain our immune and nervous systems. When we go too far past what our body is able to tolerate, it then becomes something that we need to ‘recover’ from.

For example: Drinking a cup of coffee 1-2 times a week is fine for most of us. Your body probably has the capacity to alkalize the acidity, balance your adrenals, and flush out the excess adrenalin. When drinking coffee multiple times a day and throughout the week, it strains your body enough that it’s possible that it’s taking more of its’ resources to process what you’re drinking than it is on repairing and restoring tissues.

Everything (or at least 85%) of what you eat would, ideally, consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, herbal teas, and lean meats.

That other 15% could be foods and drinks that you want to minimize. Why? Because wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, processed and fried foods are stressful for your body. When you’re working on healing, everything you do or don’t eat makes a difference. If you’re  consuming too much of the ‘wrong’ foods, your body doesn’t have any more bandwidth to rebuild your tissues, stop inflammation, balance neurotransmitters and blood sugar or to balance your nervous system. 

If you live by the ‘15% Rule’ (I just made that up but I live by it, personally, and when I do it, I stay in a good place), you’ll be fueling your body with enough nutrients that it can continue to rebuild. I love a couple of books that talk a lot about this and are fun to read. I love Dr. Dharma’s book ‘Food as Medicine’ .   There are SO many great inspirational books on the market now that explain the importance of food to achieve health and vitality. Another great one is ‘Food as Medicine Everyday’.  And if you haven’t discovered the Medical Medium Series, I highly recommend them. This one is specifically geared toward healing anxiety, skin issues and digestive issues. And lastly, what’s popular in my office is ‘The Whole 30 Diet’ where you get a step-by-step guide on going anti-inflammatory using my above philosophy for 30 days.

Avoiding foods like:

  • Coffee: stimulates your adrenals and nervous system. This is the #1 food I would recommend avoiding if you suffer with anxiety and insomnia. I really don’t have any exceptions I can offer here. If you deal with anxiety and insomnia and you’re drinking coffee, this is a must to eliminate from your diet. 
  • Dairy: includes cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, ice-cream, butter. All dairy leads to inflammation, which activates your immune system. 
  • Gluten-containing foods: pastries, pies, cookies, breads, muffins….there’s a LOOOONG list here. Check ingredient list for gluten. Gluten is really hard for most of us….85% of people are gluten-intolerant. 
  • Refined sugar: also a nervous system stimulant and causes inflammation. 
  • Chocolate: sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but chocolate really does contain caffeine and can contribute to nervous system dysregulation.

The bottom line is this: creating balance for your nervous system is uber-important. You can accomplish a big part of this through your food and drink choices. I know it’s not easy. I know. I’ve been down this road in the past and continue to find it challenging. I recently had a gallbladder flare-up after a week’s family vacation and it was the alarm bell that went off that it’s finally time to get back to the 85/15 rule with my diet.

I’m back to coffee once a week…..only with a friend and never by myself, no fried or processed foods, major vegetable intake, eating grapes, oranges, and dried apricots for snacks, and beans and rice for dinner.

If I can do it, I feel confident that you can heal with your food choices as well. I’m a former bread addict, but knowing how dramatically my food affects my health and how much BETTER I feel, makes it all worth it!

Make yourself your priority!!!! You’re worth it!

Always, in healing, 
Dr. Arjan

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