What Foods are Good for My Mental Health & Chronic Illness?

I was reading an industry magazine put out by my association (British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors) and this issue was heavily focused on mental health for chronic illness, which I was obviously excited about. In it there was a 1 page article/ad for a book about BRAIN Foods, or which foods are specifically good for mental health. I noticed some overlap with foods that are good for autoimmune disease as well, so I decided to do a little more research and try to figure out which foods would be good for both. While having this knowledge can definitely help my clients, it is also helpful for myself.

Vegan dark chocolate mousse was my birthday dessert in Costa Rica in May 2019.

Before I get into what I’ve found as overlap (not everything does overlap to be clear, there are a lot of foods that came up for one or the other), I want to state that a lot of this depends on what kind of diet you follow. Someone who does AIP vs. Paleo vs. Keto, etc. will all look at this list and find things they can or cannot eat. What I’ve found works for me is to just cut out foods when I notice they don’t make me feel well. So I don’t eat gluten or dairy or meat (except fish) because those are the main things that bother me. However, knowing what can have more benefits from the list of things I do eat is helpful to know. I also want to say, that I am not perfect, nor do I try to be. I went to my brother’s wedding in another city, and while I did try to eat from my go-to list as often as possible, there were times (like at the wedding itself) where I did indulge in dairy, meat and gluten (I surprisingly didn’t hurt too badly after). I personally find it easier to stick to my diet (or rather, way of eating) if I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect all the time (when I cook for myself I really do stick to it though).

All that being said, here are the overlap mental health and autoimmune foods I found from several lists and articles:

  • Fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc. (basically all the berries) – I love berries
  • Vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cauliflower – broccoli is often a staple for me
  • Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines – all of which are high in omega-3s and salmon is my fave
  • Nuts and seeds – sunflower seeds specifically came up on a list and I was like ooh reminds me of playing softball as a kid.
  • Sweet potatoes – literally another staple for me
  • Healthy fats, such as avocados, olive oil and coconut oil – I usually cook with avocado oil and I love avocados
  • Turmeric – my former naturopath recommended turmeric tea, which I find to be a lovely way to have more of it.
  • Green tea – I go through periods where I drink a lot of green tea
  • Dark chocolate – pretty much the only “snack” food on the lists and honestly, I got used to the taste (though I still prefer milk chocolate)
  • Whole grains – again, not something I eat anymore, but it’s definitely a better option than “white bread,” etc.
  • Coffee – I was surprised by this one, and I do love me my morning coffee. I do recommend no coffee after 2pm though as it can drastically affect sleep.

So, while you don’t have to eat everything from this list, it is probably helpful to try to include some of these foods regularly to improve brain functioning, decrease depression (depression is linked to inflammation in the brain much like AI is linked to inflammation in the body), and decrease illness symptoms. It can also be really helpful to practice mindful eating – check out my guided version here.

I love food, so hopefully this also helps you to make the most of it!

Video: Cooking with Kels – Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

Having healthy snacks is always a good idea (and I love snacks). These cookies are super customizable depending on your dietary needs (though you do have to like pumpkin to enjoy them). They are very soft cookies so that is also important to consider. Here’s the recipe: https://runningonrealfood.com/healthy-pumpkin-oat-cookies/

Enjoy the cookies and keep making the most of it!

Daily Mindfulness: Urge Surfing

Urges come in all shapes and forms. From substances to food to shopping online to letting our emotions overtake us. In this acceptance practice, we ride the waves of our urges without giving into them. Please read the disclaimer at the beginning of the video, and only partake in this practice if it is safe for you to do so. You are practicing at your own risk.

Keep making the most of it!

Support my content: Patreon.

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Cooking with Kels: Fish Tacos

I’m always looking for healthy recipes, and I LOVE fish tacos. However, I hate that 99% of the time when you go out to get them, they’re deep fried. I have a favourite taco place in LA that doesn’t deep fry theirs, but I only get to LA every few years. As a result, I make my own. There is nothing fancy about this recipe, and it’s super customizable to your dietary needs (as long as you can eat fish)!.

Keep eating… I mean making the most of it!

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Cooking with Kels: Cabbage Rolls

Okay, so this is my Baba’s amazing cabbage rolls recipe that has been verbally handed down over a few generations. This are traditional Ukrainian, vegetarian (rice, cabbage, onion, tomato soup) very small cabbage rolls that are full of flavour! I know a bunch of people who couldn’t go back to eating fat meat-filled cabbage rolls after trying these. If you want the full recipe, feel free to email me (janeversuspain@gmail.com) or DM me on Instagram (@janeversuspain).

Overall, this is a fairly healthy recipe, and nutrition is, of course, and essential of health. For more on that topic, check out my podcast episode on it. The link for Apple is below, but the podcast is available on Spotify and everywhere else you get podcasts as well. If you don’t mind submitting a review on Apple, I would also really appreciate it!

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/chronically-living-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it/id1521945719?i=1000491982969

Cooking with Kels: Fried Egg Avocado Toast

If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious breakfast idea, this might be a good place to start. The egg gives you protein, the veggies are all super health and full of nutritional benefits, and the bread can be whatever you prefer! Thanks to my friend Charity for helping me up my avocado toast game!