Food for a Better Mood
For many, the holiday season is a time of good food, festive decorations - and mood-zapping stress. Shorter and colder days, holiday crowds, family gatherings, and a tendency to overindulge can all contribute to feelings of anxiety and irritation, low-energy levels, and cravings. If you're approaching the holidays with as much trepidation as anticipation, join us Nov. 13 at Bastyr Center for Natural Health for a "Food and Mood" lecture and workshop exploring how eating patterns and mindfulness can positively affect emotional health.
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The hour-long talk, facilitated by Bastyr University faculty experts Dan Rosen, PhD, Christy Hofsess, PhD, and Eliza Carlson, MS, CN, will be divided into three parts:
A Holistic Model of Health
What is the best strategy for eating right and staying happy during the holidays? There's no magic bullet, says Dr. Rosen, clinical supervisor of counseling at Bastyr Center and a licensed psychologist and researcher who focuses on mind-body medicine. But he advises starting by listening to what your body needs. "Knowing when we are hungry, when we are full, and when it's time to go for a walk can go a long way toward supporting both our physical and mental health," he says.
In his talk, Dr. Rosen will discuss the link between the mind and the body (i.e., how the way we think can impact our physiology) and lead a few visualization exercises.
Food for a Better Mood
The types and amounts of food we eat can either contribute to, or help alleviate, stress during the holidays, says Carlson, a nutrition and lifestyle counselor and Bastyr adjunct faculty member. In her talk, Carlson will explore how food can affect brain chemistry, which foods are best for improving mood, and how a healthy liver is crucial to absorbing mood-boosting nutrients. She will also help simplify the food-to-feelings process and offer tips on meal patterns for a chemically balanced brain.
It's not uncommon for holiday stress to trigger unhealthy eating patterns. When this happens, it is good to ask ourselves, "what is it that we are stressed about, exactly?" says Dr. Hofsess, a licensed psychologist and clinical training director of Bastyr's Master of Science in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology. "Is it about spending too much money? Organizing family meals? When we identify the stressors instead of just saying 'I'm stressed,' we can unpack this general holiday stress and do some specific things to minimize the impact." By setting small goals, we don't feel pressured to accept every holiday invitation, buy every present or see every recital - and we can reduce our stress and unhealthy eating responses.
"Rushing actually increases our stress hormones, ’which lead us to not digesting our food as well," Dr. Hofsess says.
"When we don't digest well, we don't feel full and we can overeat. Or, when we're stressed and not paying attention to our body, we can overeat. This can all feed into a vicious cycle." In her talk, Dr. Hofsess will discuss tips for being "mindful eaters" and strategies for decreasing stress during the holidays.
"Food and Mood: An Exploration of the Mind-Body Connection" will be held Saturday, November 13 at Bastyr Center. Go to event details.