Therapist Blog

mental health

Why You Need to Stop Counting Calories Now

Let me first start off by saying Counting Calories is engagement in diet culture and the opposite of you listening to you body and engaging in intuitive eating. Diet culture preaches that you’re not good enough or fit enough unless you can get those Instagram likes for your toned, tight, “bikini body” (also wtf is a bikini body, isn’t any body in a bikini a “bikini body”, anyways…) its unrealistic, healthy and promotes an unhealthy relationship with food, your body, with social events that involve either of the two, and so on. Plus the industry will have you believing you need to buy some fitness book, or diet plan in order to achieve that instagram worthy body. This is a $30 billion industry (Health and Fitness) in the U.S, and it. has been growing by at least 3 - 4% annually for the last ten years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Its time to disengage from it, and stopping counting calories is one of the steps to disengage.

So why is it so important:

  1. So many of the diet foods (foods advertised as low calorie foods) contain all sorts of chemicals produced in a lab somewhere that can potentially prove to be poisonous for the body and absolutely ruin the adrenals, cortisol levels, skin, hormone balance and nutrient absorption.

  2. It takes the enjoyment out of food, you begin to see everything you eat some a scale of calories, and nutrient density and stop seeing it for what it is, fuel for your body.

  3. The potential to become “addicted” to counting calories is ever so powerful as food and your body begin to be seen as “good” or “bad”

  4. A calorie is NOT a calorie (contrary to the popular “a calorie is a calorie” belief). Our bodies process and metabolize fat, protein, and carbs VERY differently, and even different kinds of fats (saturated vs unsaturated) and carbs (simple vs complex) are metabolized in diverse ways. Making counting them pointless.

  5. Stop looking at the nutritional panel altogether. It’s not as important as the ingredients, as what’s actually in the food you’re eating, you want to at real food don’t you?

  6. By restricting calories (counting them insistently, generally leads to this), we are telling our bodies food is not available, which then slows our metabolism WAY down.

  7. Finally your health is not based on just your calorie intake for the day. Your stress levels, exercise, water intake, sleep, eating nutrient rich foods, avoiding toxins, all contribute to your health. Calorie counting is not the answer!

Intro to Nutritional Psychology

According to an article written on the Harvard Health blog studies have shown that when individuals take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics. This is just one factor to your gut health nor your anxiety/stress management. “Clean eating”, eating whole foods that are typically found in the outer corners of the grocery story have shown that there is a lowered risk of depression than eating processed foods, what would normally be found in the center of a typical grocery store.

Siting the same Harvard Health blog scientists account for these difference explained above due to the tendency of “clean eating” diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples what I think the America culture has adapted to.

So having a healthful diet and getting all the vitamins and minerals that are recommend is clearly beneficial as well as avoiding foods that are potentially damaging to the gut and then in turn peoples mental health. The less inflamed the gastrointestinal track is, the more emotional regulation will be achievable.

My hope is to continue this series hopefully it will be fruitful.

How Autumn Affects Your Mood

People come to my office stating the fall is the most challenging for them emotionally. At first glance it may be due to the upcoming holidays, and potential stress and expectations that come with that. Which is definitely a factor, however a larger factor that we have little to no control over happening is that we simply experience less daylight in the fall. Daylight helps release serotonin in our brain, and with more people going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark we are simply missing out. Also the lack of Vitamin D also plays apart, Vitamin D is often sourced for most people by the sunlight, and when Vitamin D is lacking we often feel lethargic and potentially less motivated.

Finnish researchers have found that the transition to daylight savings time reduces both our sleep duration and efficiency. Having our circadian rhythm thrown off having us potentially sleep longer than normal, having us disoriented about what time of day it is, which may led to missed appointments and further stress. Research has show that following the Autumn daylight time change an 11% increase in hospitalizations for depression in the weeks after the daylight savings transition to standard time.

If you already have sleep issues, know that a time change in either direction can aggravate your sleep disorder. Stick to a strict routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. The night before the time change, try to go to bed an hour early if you can.

Here are some tips to follow for the Autumn time change.

  • Resist the urge to change the times in which you wake and go to sleep. Consistency is key, especially this time of year.

  • Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine the day before the time changes. Both can mess with your natural sleep patterns, and you don’t want to add more confusion to the mix.

  • Try to take a walk mid-day even if only for 10-15 minutes to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, and experience the daylight you do have.

  • Increase use of coping skills since there is less daylight to do activities that you were used to do during the spring and summer months.

How to Rekindle Old Friendships?!

I often find that people feel isolated, disconnected, and lonely. Making friends as young adult or in general any one that finds themselves uncomfortable with communicating with new people. So if you struggle to make new friends, one option is to rekindle friendships that either fell apart, grew distant or have barely started. Here are some quick tips to help build or rebuild friendships:

1. Start by just reaching out. Often times we think that we have to wait around for things to just develop or happen, in life and friendship it often pays to be proactive. If you don't call or text no one knows that you want to talk or connect with them. They may be waiting on you just like you're waiting them on. So stop waiting and pick up the phone.

2. Be the bigger person and apologize. Often times friendships can come to a screaming halt when neither person is willing to concede. Ask yourself, if being "right" really worth loosing a friendship over, is what you stopped talking over really that important, do you think that perhaps things are really a just a misunderstanding? Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride, to let someone in. 

3. Diffuse any conflict with fun. Never avoid conflict just because you’re afraid to work through those issues at hand. Instead, address the problem before it gets out of control – but find a way to make it fun instead of taxing. Talk to them openly, and ask them how you can begin to enjoy each other again rather than fight. 

4. Pretend to get to know the person again.  Start new, rather than holding on toast hurt, assumptions or negativity, start by getting to know the person again as if for the first time, to help form a new, even stronger bond.