Guest Blog: Nicole Carter on Mental Health and eating well
Hi Folks! When Sabine asked me if I’d like to write a piece about eating well for mental health, I knew exactly what I’d say; Are you ready, because this could be bumpy!
I was diagnosed Bi-polar Type 1 in 2001. My story is a long tale, often sad, yet often demonstrates my perseverance through adversity to achieve my goals. Without going into lots of detail, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that to be given such a serious diagnosis, I’ve pretty much been through Hell and back, several times!! However, I’ve met a wide variety of people in my life through various types of employment, Higher Education, hospital stays etc. which has helped me to realise exactly how lucky I am to have my family’s love and support, as well as how much the Mental Health Services have drastically improved over the years.
As I started to come out of dark times, I became aware that there are things I can do to help alleviate some of my symptoms. I’ve been through several long periods of Bi-polar induced Hyper-mania and exercise anorexia, then subsequent depression, sedentary behaviour and weight gain, after each hospital admission. I eventually realised that, for me, exercise is extremely important, and helps me to process the Fight-or-flight response hormones and neurotransmitters more efficiently, which reduces my stress levels and keeps my moods more even, and of course eating well allows me to have the energy to be active. It’s a Positive Feedback process.
From all my personal experiences, training and research, I know I have to eat every 2 and a ½ to 3 hours to keep my cortisol levels down, and blood-glucose levels fine and even throughout the day; I include varied complex carbohydrates, lots of fresh vegetables and protein from a variety of sources. I keep hydrated – mostly with water, tapering off to prevent waking-up at night; I have a moderately active lifestyle that suits me, and make sure I get enough rest as regularly as possible; I do have treats but limit them so I’m not over-indulging too often. All of this really helps me to keep feeling good mentally and physically.
Food is one of life’s great pleasures, AND what’s great is we NEED to eat to keep our energy and concentration levels good! There are so many great foods to try, and I find that a varied nutrition intake keeps my life interesting and full of different important nutrients.
I really love Calvin’s Free From Coconut Flat Bread Rolls. They are great for breakfast, lunch, or a light snack, so fluffy, tasty, nutritious and not dry like many free-from breads. One of my favourite breakfasts, is a coconut flatbread straight from the freezer into the toaster for 4 minutes, sliced then spread with dairy-free garlic and herb cream cheese, with sliced baby plum tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. SO much better and tastier than boring cereal every day! It is important for me to use self-care which helps me on my journey of recovery and healing, good food is one of my tools for this. Calvin’s Free From Coconut Flat Breads are also convenient, making it easier for me to look after my own mental health and physical health.
Life is continually getting better for me, thankfully!
Nicole Carter is a qualified fitness class instructor, nutrition adviser and personal trainer, she has successfully alleviated many of the symptoms of her Bi-Polar disorder. She published her book "Fit Mind Fit Body: To help improve your Mental Health and Fitness" on Amazon. Available on Kindle and Paperback. Click the link here.
She is also a published poet and more about her can be found on her Twitter @NCarter_Fitness .