Nutrition Matters – January 2020

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With the start of a new year, it’s important to reflect back on the prior year, assess what went well, what didn’t and decide where you want to go next. It takes a lot of mental toughness, self-love, and discipline to create the life you want. Simply coasting along on cruise control reacting to life can lead to a victim mentality and stagnation. In doing so, you don’t have to swear yourself to resolutions and feel like a failure if you don’t achieve them. Just think about the life you want to create and take small steps. Here’s how to get mentally fit for the new year so you can move forward successfully:

  1.  Clear cutter: Look at your surroundings. If you have junk drawers galore, a messy car, countertops and cabinets that are full of stuff you don’t even use, it’s time to clear the clutter. Cluttered spaces reflect a cluttered mind. If you want to wipe the slate clean to allow room for new people and circumstances that serve you, you must get your mind clear. Many people who suffer from being anxious, stressed or even depressed say they feel better when they start clearing up their physical space.
  2. Eat mind-boosting foods:  Mental fitness also has to do with how well our minds work. A loss of memory or the ability to concentrate or focus can easily shift with an improved diet. Research finds that along with other benefits, foods rich in Omega-3, such as some fish and nuts, as well as those full antioxidants can help protect the brain from memory decline. Eating more fish such as salmon and add fruits such as blackberries and blueberries to your diet can help. The good news is that brain-boosting foods include delicious options such as chocolate, guacamole (avocados) and sunflower seeds.
  3. Color: The adult coloring book bandwagon is a good one to jump on because coloring requires a total focus on the present. The repetitive motion of coloring provides relief from stress and anxiety by entering a mediative state. Not everyone can sit still and breathe for 15 minutes per day, but they certainly can color. It’s absolutely a fun way to achieve mindfulness and shake off he day.
  4. Apologize + forgive: A fast way to mental fitness is forgiveness. Carrying around resentments and guilt wears us down and can lead to serious illnesses such as cancer or stroke. If you experienced a tough break-up, divorce or perhaps the political climate led to arguments and lost friends, reach out, apologize and seek forgiveness to help you move on. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone hurtful behavior. Forgiveness frees you and the other person, making it easier to move forward.
  5. Learn something new: Challenge your brain by doing something new:  Learn a new language, cook a new recipe, try your hand at painting or explore doing Tai Chi. Pick something you think would be interesting or useful to learn and try it. The more we can activate the cognitive functions of our brains the better our short and long-term memory and hand-eye coordination will be.
  6. Plan + prepare more meals at home: Instead of committing to a strict diet, incorporate more home-cooked meals into your repertoire. Research shows that food made at home has less fat, calories and sugar than meals eaten out, even if you’re not specifically trying to prepare and eat healthier meals.

For additional foods, health and nutrition information, contact Shelina Bonner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Greene County Center at (252)-747-5831.