Therapy Talks

What Is "Gut Health"? | How Food Affects Our Mental Health with Laura-Leigh McKenzie

November 01, 2022 Switch Research Season 1 Episode 47
Therapy Talks
What Is "Gut Health"? | How Food Affects Our Mental Health with Laura-Leigh McKenzie
Show Notes Transcript

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Do you feel guilty for eating your favorite meal? 
Does what you eat make you feel bad? 

In some cases, an unhealthy diet can be just as harmful as an unhealthy relationship. It can lead to anxiety, stress, and even disorder.

Laura-Leigh McKenzie joins Hailey Kanigan this week on therapy talks to discuss gut health and how the food we eat  affects our mental health.

In this episode:

  • Laura-Leigh explains the baking soda test (a way to test the effectiveness of your stomach acid)
  • A walkthrough of the digestive system and its key components
  • Communication between the brain and gut
  • Tips on how, where, when, and what to eat
  • Understanding your personal relationship with food and why it’s unique to you

As a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Laura-Leigh supports women struggling with their digestion and mental health as the two so often go hand-in-hand. She works with women to make small, sustainable changes to both diet and lifestyle that create a foundation for long term health. Her goal is always to help make it easier for women to eat healthy/delicious food they truly enjoy and incorporate mindfulness & movement as a daily practice so they can ease anxiety & low mood, restore energy and feel more like themselves again!

Find Out More About Laura-Leigh:
Instagram: @gut.connection

Learn More About Switch Research:
Instagram: @switchresearch

Disclaimer: Therapy Talks does NOT provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is NOT a substitute for professional medical care.

Hey, it's Haley. Welcome back for another episode of Therapy Talks. Today we have Laura-Leigh joining us. She's a holistic nutritionist. She talks about her personal journey of how it led her to discovering different things about nutrition. We talk a lot about different myths around nutrition as well as the connection between the gut and mental health.

I'd love for you to introduce yourself and what you do, and I'd love to just to get to know you if possible. Sounds good. Yeah. So I'm Laura Lee and I'm certified in holistic nutrition. And my husband and I also actually operate a vegetable farm in a small town in Jery, BC between Cranbrook and Fur.

All about eating healthy, nutritious vegetables, grown in, nutrient dense soil. But on the nutrition side of things, I particularly focus my practice on women who are struggling both with mental health challenges, so primarily anxiety, depression. Low mood, just feeling like they're on this roller coaster up and down.

And then, which goes totally hand in hand with that is some gut health stuff, Digestive issues, which can be, the whole kind of spectrum from constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, all of those types of things. Food sensitivities just really not being able to enjoy. The food that they're eating or things that they used to really enjoy that aren't sitting well with them anymore.

That's so interesting and I've always been so curious between like nutrition specifically and mental health. Cuz as a clinician myself, we're always very cautious to say, You should eat this or shouldn't eat that. It's not with the necessarily specialty. So I'd love to learn more about what you got you into this field if you're open to sharing and where you're at and a little bit more about where you're at now and what's going on there would be wonderful.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I find the connection between gut health and mental health fascinating. So yeah, I'm very passionate about it and for me, what really led me to this work is my own struggle. So I I had a period in my life where I had a lot. Of stress happening in my life. Lots of things going on all at the same time, and my digestive system just totally shut down on me.

, it was my body's way of giving me a little wake up call like, Hey, you need to do something because we can't deal with this stress anymore. You're going through a lot in your life and it was a really stressful period for yourself, and that kind of just led you into this investigation of nutrition and how it was affecting your personal.

Yeah, so I ended up going back to school for holistic nutrition so that I could really get to the bottom of it and figure it out for myself, and then also help other women so that they wouldn't have to go through the painful process that I went through to get my digestion back on track. Yeah. So within the field of like holistic nutrition, like what does that mean and like how does that differ from just a nutritionist?

Is that something different as well as like a dietician? If you could just clarify as well. Yeah, for sure. So dietician and holistic nutrition definitely have very different designations, a dietician. Typically would have an undergraduate degree, at least for that. Whereas a certified holistic nutrition is a one year certification program.

And I think the big difference is, In holistic nutrition we're really taking that holistic approach. So not only looking at just food and diet, but we're bringing in some of the sort of lifestyle elements. Managing stress, Even looking at the spiritual side of things can be really beneficial for people too.

Wonderful. So it's really much that broad approach of like how are you being affected by everything, not only what you're eating. Exactly. And everybody is so biochemically unique too. So an approach that's gonna work for one person isn't going to work for another person the same way. . And I love that.

That's a common thing that I hear a lot. Eat what you feel is best like intuitive eating and really listening to your body. So what are some main themes of challenges that you hear from the women that you work? Yeah. So I think some of the big challenges are really if I can dive in and talk a little bit more about what do we even mean when we're having like, gut health issues and what does that actually look like?

So when we're seeing. An imbalance in our gut. And even if I can back up a little bit more and just help to clarify like What are we even talking about when we're talking about the gut? Cause I think that's a pretty big buzzword right now, and I'm not sure a lot of us even know what that means.

 For sure, please. . Yeah. So our gut is really just short for our gastrointestinal tracted and that. Our whole digestive system. So from our mouth down through our esophagus, into our stomach, small intestinal and large intesine, all the way to our colon and name. That's our gut and the gut microbiome, which I think is another really big word that we're hearing a lot, is simply the trillions and trillions of gut bugs different microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, yeast.

That live within that space, and primarily they're focused in the large intestine and then some in the small intestine as well. So when we're having sort of some issues in our GI tract, noticing that we're not digesting our food well, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, that tells us that there's likely an imbalance going on in the gut.

And one of the most common ways that shows up is we have some of the sort of. I'll say for simplicity sake, the bad gut bugs are starting to outnumber the good gut bugs. And I'd love to use the analogy that if you think about in nature, if we had an ecosystem where. An invasive species was starting to take over.

That has such a huge cascade of impacts on the whole ecosystem. So the same thing is happening in our gut microbiome. So the gut, when the bad guys are starting to take over, that's leading to a whole suite of issues. And where I get really passionate is how that also starts to impact our mental health as.

so I can dig a little bit deeper into that . Yeah. Would it be OK with you if I was like your mock client right now and you could maybe bring me through a little bit of an assessment or what you would do with a first time client of how to discuss like maybe like for mock purposes, like my gut health and like maybe how that would affect my mental.

That would be interesting if that's okay. Sure. Let's roll. Let's roll with it. See how we go. ? Yeah. If that's okay. Yeah, just cuz I think it'd be really interesting cuz I think a lot of the times people are like, what does that even look like if I were to have a consultation or an appointment and what would we discuss and what would come up?

Yeah, absolutely. . Okay. Sure. I'll be honest I'll be honest with my answers too, . Okay. Okay. So just like to do a bit of a mini email? Yeah. Just to see. Yeah, just cause I think sometimes we miss like that, how does it connect or what would come up, what would you talk about? So it'd be a little bit more informed for someone who might be listening of what that would look like.

Yeah. So the first question would be like, what are the symptoms that even brought you here today? What's going on for you? So like for example, I notice for myself that if I drink too much dairy, I get a little bloated, or I notice that I really love sugar, for example, and too much sugar really, I notice a lot of fatigue with my lifestyle.

I also notice that I'm more energetic for exercising in the morning, things like that. And I also noticed that I, if I were to experience some emotional distress, it'd be more on the anxiety side of things. Okay. And then I guess for you, on the anxiety side of things what coping does that bring up for you then?

So it would be, I find that I love self soothing through sugar and treats. If it's a bad day, have a treat. If it's a good day, have a treat . And so it's not even a treat anymore. It's becomes like a very habitual usage. Okay. So a couple things to dive into here. I think one of the biggest things would be focusing in on blood sugar.

So for a lot of people we get on a bit of a blood sugar roller coaster. So what's happening is and this is also we're gonna tie this into, to the stress that's happening there and how this sort of also plays a role. So when you're on a blood sugar coaster, That starts to really impact your mood.

That's why you're ex, you're experiencing that high level energy in the morning and then maybe a bit of a crash in the afternoon. And that's why we get those sugar cravings too. So we're eating maybe some sugary foods, maybe foods that are really high in starch. And this is giving our body a. Surge of sugars.

And then what our body does is it tries to get those sugars as quickly as it can into our muscles so we can use them. And then what that does is it leads to a pretty quick blood sugar drop. And that's when we start to feel that fatigue and we don't have as much energy. We feel like we need a caffeine.

Pick me up at two o'clock or a nap. So what we have to do with this is we have to start to get our blood sugar stable and balance it out again. So a couple of really key things to do this. The first thing is to make sure you're eating breakfast and ideally within about a half an hour of waking up.

And for a lot of. That's a challenge. So if it's hard, it can be as simple as a few bites of yogurt a few sips of a smoothie, and then you can finish it a little bit later when your appetite kicked in again. So that would be the most important thing, number one. A second thing to help with that is gonna be to really make sure that you're snacking regularly.

So we wanna prevent those crashes, so it means we need a stable supply of sugar throughout the day. So we wanna be eating. If you're really struggling with those up and down and you're noticing it's impacting your mood, I recommend a snack every two hours. So that's something to consider. And with that snack we wanna make sure, and in general, with our meals, if we're struggling with.

Some up and downs. We're feeling that fatigue in the afternoon. We're having a lot of cravings. We wanna make sure we're getting protein and or fat with that snack. So that could look like, having a mid-morning snack of an apple alongside some peanut butter or some almond butter that gives you both your fat and your protein.

Or, it could look like a little energy ball made with some dates and some nuts and some other seeds. So lots of options to add in that protein and fat. If you're eating some veggies, it could just be some hummus. On the side. So that is also really key as well. And then with our meals, also, just making sure we're getting some, both some protein and healthy fats and healthy fats.

When I say that I'm really just meaning trying to avoid more of the sort of saturated fats and trans fats and focusing in. Butter. Ge if you're noticing some dairy sensitivity, like you mentioned, Gee is a really good one. Coconut oil is actually a healthy saturated fact. , olive oil, that's another really good option too.

Okay, really interesting. So you would really break down like what are the symptoms of a client would be facing and understanding like where they're really challenged in terms of like their energy levels and like what they're noticing. And so then how would you tie that back into maybe like the mental health piece in terms of like anxiety or stress, for example?

Yeah, so the root So often is really to do with stress. And in this case, really what's happening when we're experiencing some stress and the beautiful and fascinating part about stress is it comes from so many different areas. So if we're on a blood sugar, Roller coaster that actually is creating stress for our body.

It's a physical stress. So when we're crashing, our body's in a state of stress. And what happens as you know very well in your practice when we're in that stress response, we can get into that fight or flight mode. We're in our sympathetic nervous system. And that has a whole cascade of impacts as well.

So primarily when we're in that fight or flight mode, our digestion gets put on the back burner because our body's prioritizing other systems so we can get through that bite or fleeing out of the situation. So we're not digesting our food as well as we need to be. And that can contribute to.

Imbalance in our gut bugs that we talked about a little bit earlier. So when we don't have our food digested as well as it needs to be, that can really help to feed some of those bad gut bugs. But also when we don't. When we're in this state of stress our, and we're not digesting things really well, we're not getting at all of the really imperative nutrients that our body needs, we need our digestive system to be working optimally in order to really absorb.

All of the nutrients, the vitamins, the minerals, so that our body can perform all of the very many functions that it needs to in order to be healthy. And that includes our mental health as well. Okay. And the other really big piece of this is when we're stressed out and our body is starting to pump out more of the stress hormones.

That leaves less material for other hormones for our, So our body isn't able to produce those other hormones as effectively and in the quantities that we need it to. And that is, that's a link I see really common in my practice where for some women they're also seeing some hormonal imbalances, some adrenal fatigue because they're in this chronic state of stress.

So their body's pumping out the stress hormone. And then when we've got adrenal fatigue, when we've got hormonal imbalance, that's when it's really common to see, just like tired, our cognition goes down. We've got brain fog. We're more susceptible to anxiety, depression. So all of those things really do go hand in hand.

Okay. And how would you support someone to figure out, if that's what it is, like a hormonal imbalance that's happening? It's pretty easy to tell based on the symptoms that a person is experiencing. Another interesting way to detect if we've got potentially some hormone imbalances going on.

And also if we're not digesting our food really well is by doing a little test with baking soda . Yeah, please tell me. I'm so interested. I usually get most of my clients to do this. So just mixing a small amount of baking soda in some water and drink yet first thing in the morning before you've eaten anything.

And then once you've drank that whole glass, you set a timer. And you stop the timer when you notice the first time that you actually have a burp. So this is a, just a test for us to do. That indicates how How your stomach acids are doing, and if you've got enough stomach acid, that's going to ensure that you're digesting your food properly enough so that we can get at those nutrients.

And of course, protein is a critical nutrient that we need to be digesting in order for our body to be able to make hormones. So if we're seeing that our stomach acid levels aren't quite high enough, That's a really good indication that we might be having some challenges digesting protein, which means we're not getting at the amino acids our body needs in order to actually build hormones.

Okay. And so with the Burp test, is it like a quicker burp or a longer burp that you're looking for? So if you are not burping for, if it's gone for five minutes and you haven't had a burp, then that's an indicator that we've got some low stomach acid and potentially we're not digesting our foods as well as we need to be.

In order to get at all those critical nutrients. So cuz you want enough a acid to digest, but you don't want too much acid that you're getting like stomach ulcers or stuff like that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Or heartburn or anything like that. Yeah. That's so interesting. And so you can tell and then. I think that's often forgotten about this idea around protein.

It's like we are protein as human beings. We're made of that and that's what builds us. So we need to have, be eating enough nutrition and different variety of things so that we can build this stuff that gives us our balance. Yeah. And I think it's, we all hear like protein.

It's so important. Protein, and we don't. Really connect the dots always as to why, but you're absolutely right. It's like the essential building blocks of life. So we need to be making sure that we're eating, a variety of protein, enough protein in our day, and that we're actually able to break it down.

For sure. And so how much protein would say like an average woman would need per day? Oh, this is where like my brain doesn't remember numbers, . Okay. So I cannot give you like a gram 35, but I remember my clients, I recommend having some protein at every meal and snack if you can. Yeah. And like a serving of protein would be like the palm of your hand.

Okay. Interesting. Yeah. And I do also always offer my clients some tips to aid with that digestive process, making sure that, even if you aren't having low stomach acid, we still need to be making sure that we're having some like foundational habits in our day to day that help us to digest our food well enough that we are able to get at all the nutrients cause.

The building blocks of our health. So I'd love to speak to some of those if that's of interest. Yeah, that would be wonderful, please. Yeah. A couple of things. The first thing, and like how we talked about when we're in that fight flight mode, our digestion gets put on the back burner.

So in order for us to make sure that we are able to really optimally digest our food, We have to make sure that we're in our parasympathetic nervous system state, which is our rest and digest. And so in order to do that I recommend that people just first of all, ideally if you can make sure that we're not eating on the go in front of a screen at our desk, like I know that's so much easier said than done, but it really is important that we're actually able to.

Eat and be present and take a moment before we're eating to just take a deep breath, , take a deep breath, maybe think about something that you're grateful for, or even just thinking about the food you're about to eat and all of the crazy, many steps it took to get that food in front of you. So that's really important, just having that moment to get in your body.

Make sure you take a deep breath and you can just, oh, release some stuff so that you're in more of that relaxed skate in order to be able to digest properly. And another tip that I have on that note is if you find yourself in environments like, let's say the workplace lunch room that you don't like, like you find it a little bit stressful, it's not, you're just not a hundred percent comfortable.

I recommend that. Find a space that you actually do feel comfortable to eat. And this is actually something that I struggled with for a long time. So I would eat in my car. Because I didn't like the lunchroom. I found it really stressful. It wasn't helping my digestion. So that's another little tidbit to consider.

Yeah. Or trying to find a way to make the lunchroom more comfortable for you. So that you don't have to be fearful of that environment and then eventually can find it like to be a more calming place. Exactly. Yeah. , a hundred percent. Whether that's the people you're eating with or the space or the time, all of.

Really good things to consider for sure. So you really are speaking about this idea of having your body at rest. And if your body's at rest, then you can digest better, you can get the nutrients you need and therefore you can have that mental health experience that's a lot more at peace than and calm that's gonna be soothing for all areas of your life.

Yeah, exactly. And then the second piece of that is actually ch tuning into chewing your food. And this is something. None of us do. Like I challenge everyone listening to go home tonight and eat dinner and actually bring some awareness to chewing your food. And it's amazing because most of us don't do this , we're just totally unconscious when we're eating.

So it's a fun one to do and to just really tune into Oh yeah. Chewing and chewing your food until it's a pace before you actually follow it. And that is going to actually. A lot, like more than you would believe is just taking that time to chew. Really make sure you're chewing your food is hugely beneficial for people.

Cuz it's like that first step of digestion is the breakdown of it from a mechanical sense instead of just allowing your stomach and the acid and things like that to actually break it down. Yeah, exactly. I remember like way back when in science class, they were like, When you wanna digest something more, what do you need more of?

And they're like, We are all confused. Cuz it was like, we're so young, but you needed more surface area. More surface area means there's no opportunity. There's more opportunity for things to be absorbed and digest. If it's a big clump of something, you can't actually. Absorb as much nutrients unless it's actually broken down and there's lots of surface area for it to attach and get digested.

And the nutrition to get absorbed. Exactly. Yeah. , hundred percent for sure. And so do you find that often also women are coming in for their mental health from like a self care perspective or in terms of confidence levels in terms of their eating and the way that they perceive themselves? I would say all of the above.

I think. It is, has become more and more pronounced for me just how prolific diet culture is and how we have these very, strangely rigid beliefs around good, healthy habits, good food, bad food, and those can be quite harmful. And so I find that is a really major issue.

Fears of eating carbohydrates, fears of eating fat, all of these things that are actually absolutely essential to our physical and mental health, like fat. Pivotal nutrient that we absolutely need for our brain health, our mental health. And a lot of women are really fearful. So in my practice, part of the work that I do is helping to break down those beliefs a little bit more and help women to let go of some of that.

This is a good food, this is a bad food. And just yeah, learning how to befriend all foods learning. How to balance the two? There is, in my opinion, there is absolutely 100% a role for the unhealthy junk foods in our life. They, and that is perfectly okay. We need to have that healthy balance, eating junk food for joy and comfort and pleasure, like all of that.

Fantastic. And there's definitely a role for that. So that's part of the work that I do with women too. It's like reconceptualizing the way that we see food for so often. It was like, don't eat pasta's, carbs. It's not good for you. You shouldn't have it. But it's like you can have it. You just should maybe have it like every day.

Exactly. And I think the, what I find. As part of one of the most interesting parts of my job when I'm working with women and is helping them to actually make the connection of, Oh, when I eat that, I feel like this. because when we actually have that connection conscious for ourselves, it's a lot easier to then say, You know what I'm gonna pass on the cheese because I feel so coming after that.

It's not actually even worth the sort of minor enjoyment or the, that amount of enjoyment I get when I'm eating the cheese because the after effect is so awful. So when we make that connection, it can be really helpful and make it less overwhelming and difficult to eat some of those foods in a greater moderation.

 For sure. Do you think like a lot of what your work is actually just shifting perspectives? I think it's shifting perspective, but, and also education because unfortunately, And actually I have been doing some work with more teenage girls recently as well, and we just don't learn a lot about proper nutrition in school at all.

Like I can't, I know that some of the girls I've been working with, they're like, Yeah, I never learn any of this in school. Why? Why aren't we learning this in school? ? So I think it's filling in that gap so that we. Make sure that we are educated on what our bodies need for fuel what that looks like.

And unfortunately too, in the current environment that we live in, we have so much influence from major corporations Advertisements that aren't always in our best interest. So that's another thing that we have to be conscious of. Yeah. So you're really shifting perspectives through the utilization of education and helping individuals to understand like what's right for their bodies and what's maybe another person's agenda on what we should eat versus what is really right for our bodies individually.

Exactly. That's so huge. . Yeah, a hundred percent. And that can be one of the challenges with all of these sort of fad diets that come up and, inevitably end up going away again. And there's always a new one. And yeah, helping people to know that, that's not necessarily going to serve everyone.

And I think the big thing too is nutrition is not a silver bullet. It is one piece of the pie and it's an important. Absolutely. But there are also, some other really important pieces within our life that we need to focus on as. Definitely. And so do you see often individuals are going, I don't want to eat this because of how it makes my body be affected from an appearance standpoint or is that like a common theme that you're seeing like, I don't wanna eat this cuz it makes my body look like this and you're trying to like, break apart that idea?

Not so much I would say from an appearance feeling, but it's more from a, I guess it can relate back to that. It's more that just feeling super yucky in your body, which does then relate to you're not feeling confident in your clothes. You don't feel like you're really fitting your pants, and that is, very damaging and impactful to your self-image, your self worth and your confidence, of course.

But yeah, it really is more around that. I just, I feel like bloated all the time. I feel yucky, like I'm tired. More of those sensations that come up that then lead to some of the perhaps aesthetic concerns as well. Okay. And this is something that I've heard, but I've, I'm not sure how true it is, but there's this idea that how our gut is reflected on our skin.

Yeah, absolutely. I'm not, I would definitely no skin exert expert, but yeah, absolutely. Our gut health. Similarly to how our gut health plays a really important role in our mental health, it also plays a huge role in the, in our skin health too. And when we have an imbalance in our gut, that can definitely lead to some common skin conditions like acne, eczema psoria.

Yeah, 100%. , that's just something that I heard that, Yeah, like with the acne piece, that if there is that showing up on one's skin, like it's showing there's an imbalance in the gut and we're not getting the right nutrients, or we're having too much of one thing, for example. I think we vastly underestimate the role of our gut health in our overall health.

It is so foundational. It's fascinating. And the thing about our gut health is we're always learning more and more about it. It's a continually evolving area of study, so we don't even know the degree to which it impacts their overall health. Can you speak at all to this idea of like serotonin in the.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, serotonin. So going back always to this balance in our gut, . Yeah. So our good gut bugs and specifically bacteria in this case they are responsible for helping to produce the stat is over 90% of our peripheral sero to. And our good gut bugs, they play a critical role sometimes in just aiding the process or in the production itself of several neurotransmitters, like important neurotransmitters for our mental health, serotonin being one of them.

Gaba acetylcholine, glutamate dopamine. So our gut bugs play a super important role. The production of neurotransmitters. And along with that too, they also produce B vitamins, which I would say are one of the most important nutrients for our mental health as. I've heard that a lot, that it's like the second brain is in our gut because like it, that's where we make a lot of our neurotransmitters in some ways, and it goes into our brains and then the brain is able to fire them off.

But we need to reproduce them over time. And obviously what we are, what we eat, so when we eat, it gets translated into our energy or different parts of our body that we use, yeah. When we are not eating, let's say we're either not digesting our food properly or we're not eating enough of the right foods, we're not getting those nutrients that we need to feed the good gut bugs and to allow a lot of those processes to take place within our body.

So then we're gonna start to see some decline in our body, and we're gonna start to see some of these issues cropping up, that we don't feel our best, we don't feel so healthy. Interesting, right? Yeah. And our gut and our brain, they really are very interconnected. They're connected by the vagus nerve and it's a bidirectional communication.

So our gut and our brain, they're always in communication with each other. And our gut even has its own little mini nervous system called the inter nervous system. Could you tell us more about that? That's really interesting, . The direction or the connection between our gut and our brain.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I don't know if I'm like too much of an expert on it, but yeah, really it just goes to speak further to the fact that like we can experience stresses in so many different ways. Physical stressors, emotional stressors, all of those things. If we're experiencing an emotional stressor, that's going to then immediately have an impact on our gut.

That's for example, when we're nervous about something, like if we have to speak in front of an audience, some people can get about of diarrhea because they're really nervous. That's that connection between our brain and our gut right there. Or I find it so interesting, when we say, Oh, you get a gut feeling again that is that literal connection through the vagus.

From our brain to our gut . So when things are off in our gut it really is an indication that something is off. And that's something that I always find really fascinating in working with clients is when they're experiencing some gut issues, we can ask the question well, what is going on in your life that you're actually like having trouble digesting from? More of a bigger picture stance not food-wise, but is there something going on in your life that you're struggling with? Because that's going to have an impact on your gut health too. So we can use the gut as just such an interesting signaler for ourselves that something is off not just health wise, but like maybe emotionally, mentally, within our environment.

Do you think that sometimes people are more likely then to work on their mental health if they can align more with this gut health idea? So often there's so that stigma around having mental health support, but if they go at it from that nutritional standpoint where it's like science based to some extent versus the stigma that psychology isn't a science space, people are more likely to engage than in their betterment of their mental health.

For sure. I think I would say. . If I go back to that whole analogy that nutrition is one piece of a pie, We think of a pie as our, like overall health. But it's an easy a gateway, right? Like nutrition is such an easy starting place and I shouldn't say it's easy.

Making changes within our nutrition can be really hard, but it is that first place where someone can really invest time in their selves and practice. Self care through eating it. So I think it's a wonderful place to start and when we can start to practice those things. Yeah, absolutely.

Working on some of those other elements of nourishing ourselves in other ways, taking care of ourselves, prioritizing ourselves, setting boundaries, all of those can come and be built on the starting place of nutrition. And, like boundaries is such a good example. When we're having some gut stuff going on, we actually need to practice setting boundaries because we're gonna have to maybe cut some foods out at a certain point in time and that can bring up things for people that can be hard.

So it's a really I love that one. I love sort of practicing boundaries around food. So yeah, I think they absolutely build on each other. And I would say nutrition can definitely. A more approachable starting place for people. , what would be some small changes that individuals could make to better their nutrition?

Good question, . Yeah, a couple of things I would say, like chewing, for example you already said earlier, chewing for sure. One of the big ones would be eating a variety of plants specifically. So plant foods are gonna feed your go monkey biome. They're gonna feed those good guys and plants include vegetables, fruits, leggings, and grains.

And we just wanna be making sure that we're eating the rainbow. We're eating a variety. So you know, if you're always eating, Maybe mix it up and try psco and mill it, or amran, quinoa if you're always having chickpeas, let's explore into black beans and pinto beans and kicking there's so much variety out there.

As far as vegetables and fruits, try something new every week. And if you always get, green cabbage, next time, try the purple ca. So just kinda, getting some variety of the spice of life mixed into your grocery shopping list. Yeah. And your nutrition diet, weekly.

Is a great place to start and there's like endless opportunity there. , Sorry my dog is joining us today. She's crazy. That's totally ok. Welcome . Yeah. But I do agree with you. It's like those small changes, right? In terms of just switching up what we're eating on a regular basis cause it's so easy to get stuck in a ha habits, right?

that often helps make our life a little bit easier when things are stressful and busy. But even we can stick to for example, if you drink nut milk and you're always buying oat milk, it's you still buy your nut milk, but just mix it up every week. Instead of buying oat milk by cashing milk, then almond milk, then help milk.

So we can just help keep it structured like that. But we're just slightly changing it each. For sure. Cause like often we always eat the same things. Like even for myself, I notice that I'm having like toast almost every morning and it's it'd be great if I just switch it up and have a smoothie or have oatmeal or do something different just to have that variety.

Yeah, and if you need to start smaller, that's okay too. It's okay, have almond butter on your toast or cashew butter or try a different kind of bread, like a s sprouted grain or there's there's still so much variation even within some of the same. For sure. And we can find a lot of enjoyment with having something different instead of always the same thing.

Yeah. And your body's gonna like it too. And your gut bugs. . Yeah, exactly. . Yeah. And I would also say along with that eating to help feed our gut bugs is another really good one. So I'm sure everyone's heard of probiotics. And then prebiotics are actually the foods that feed the probiotics.

So they feed the good gut. Such as what would be an item? So a prebiotic would be if you have stewed apple, the pectin ones, it's broken down. That's gonna be a prebiotic. Bananas more on the greener side are going to have some prebiotic onions. Also white rice or potatoes. Once they've cooled off, they're gonna have some more of the prebiotics in them.

I know what's strained. It needs to cool off in order for the prebiotics to get activated . Interesting. Yeah. And then probiotics, of course, are in all of our mented foods. So yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut kombucha. Yeah. And making sure with those foods, we always wanna make sure we're buying the refrigerated variety.

So a sauerkraut on the. A shelf stable. Sao isn't going to have the probiotics in it. You have to buy the kind from the refrigerated section. Interesting. And that's even just a quick little tip there that you're actually gonna pay for something that's going to actually give you what you're looking for.

Yeah, and I think getting our probiotics from food is often a better option than going for a probiotic supplement. And that's not to say there isn't a role for the supplements sometimes for. But the supplements, when you take a probiotic supplement it, those probiotics, those good gut bugs, they're not gonna stay in your gut.

They're more just visitors. But if you're getting it from your food, those gut bugs are actually able to colonize and stay within the gut. So they're gonna help for the longer term. Interesting. . So there's a lot of different tips that people could do, just like having variations within like the foods that they're normally eating, going for nutritional probiotics and probiotic foods, making sure that if you are getting a supplement, it's like the right kind of supplement.

So all of the small things, and even just even for myself knowing to drink enough water every day is so important as well. Just to keep you hydrated so you can digest. Yeah. And another one with that one is don't drink your water with your food. Have it in between your meals. So when you drink water with a meal, which is the super counterintuitive, intuitive for most of us, but when you drink water with your meal, you're actually diluting some of the digestive enzymes in your stomach.

Always wanna drink your water between meals, not with her meal. So just food when you're eating. I would never have thought that because I love just having some water when I'm eating to wash it down, . I know that's so common. Most of us always have our glass of water with our meal. Yeah. Interesting. What else are we really missing? Do you notice in your practice, in terms of nutrition and mental health? Oh man. I would say also making sure that, going back to that whole idea that a lot of women are scared of fats and carbs, . Yeah. We need to make sure that our diets are really rich in healthy fats.

Essential. Fatty acids. And I actually do, as far as supplements, always recommend my female clients, especially if they're struggling with some mental health challenges to take an omega-3 supplement and a Vitamin D supplement as well. It's definitely possible to get from food, but most of us don't give it enough from our food.

So an omega3 fish oil is a really good addition to help. Our brain health, our cognition, our mood and even for kids. Also, just a really good one to have on hand. And eating foods like, incorporating some fatty fish like salmon. Again, swapping out some of your oils for we wanna avoid.

Some of the oils, like we wanna avoid the grape seed oil, canola oil. We wanna have less of those and trade those in for the. Olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil is another. Coconut oil is a really good one. And butter or GE for cooking, we wanna reserve those ones for cooking. We don't wanna cook with our olive oil or our avocado oil.

Those ones are better to stay cool. They don't do well at higher temperatures. And nuts and seeds of course, are another really good source of healthy. Yeah, getting more healthy fast into our do not being afraid of fats. And just I think again, really making space for this I like to say like the 80 20 rule, like we're allowed to have the junk foods and the unhealthy foods.

And I just encourage all of my clients to when you're eating some of those foods that are maybe less healthy. We just wanna do it in a more mindful way. So actually being really present when we're eating some of those foods. A lot of us are not present, as we've already talked about when we're eating.

But yeah, really focusing on that experience of the food. Like how does it feel in your mouth? How are you feeling in your body when you're eating it? Can you actually sit and just enjoy it? And that's gonna help with some of the When we're using food to cope with our unpleasant emotions or we're binge eating to kind of stuff down our feelings when we can embrace some of the unhealthy foods, but eat them more mindfully, it helps to combat some of that as well.

Okay. That's really interesting too as well. Yeah, I think that's something that Yeah. A. Women struggle with for sure. And there's a lot of shame that goes with it. But I don't think it needs to be this horrible, awful thing. I think, we can indulge and we can do it. And when we're, we give ourselves a little bit of grace and compassion.

Knowing that we're likely doing that because there's a part of us somewhere that's hurting and in pain and that does not wanna feel , we can plan ahead for that. I tell some clients, maybe going splurge on the really fancy dark chocolate bar that you would actually never buy for yourself, and the next time you find yourself in that place where you're going for the chocolate.

If you instead have this really fancy, luxurious bar of chocolate and you just allow yourself to fully indulge and enjoy that chocolate bar, instead of feeling crappy and going for the really crappy chocolate that's gonna be full of other yucky stuff and not benefit you another way, and maybe keep you like a bit of a food hangover the next day that you might just like Bingey and not even think about the other option, can just help a little bit for you to, Yeah.

Indulge and it's okay to have that comfort from that food. . And what would you say to individuals who their main challenge is I would love to eat healthier, but expenses like it's expensive to eat healthy, and two, like the time to have healthy meals. Oh yeah. It is a challenge and I can sympathize that with it a hundred percent.

When we're in farm season, I find it quite ironic because we don't eat as healthy cuz we're so busy , and yet we're growing all of this healthy, nutritious food. So I think that's a problem that we all really struggle with. So I would say one of the things that can be helpful is simple. Simple. I have a couple tips.

One Plan certain days to have the same meal. And within that you can have some variation. So if you know that like Mondays, you're always having past that, that's gonna help. Maybe Tuesdays is always tacos. . So you, it removes some of the mental load of figuring out, scrambling for what you're gonna have for dinner.

So that you just know, okay, Mondays are passed and you can plan for it when you're at the grocery store. And of course there's different ways that you can mix it up. You can have Bo eggs and you can have Alfredo there's so many different options even within those sort of categories. I find that can be really helpful for people.

If you are, really committed and you can make space for a little bit of a meal prep and just maybe 20 minutes on Sunday to actually plan what you're gonna have, again, it just really helps to take that mental load off because I think for most of us, we're just always scrambling and then it's stressful or Oh, what are we gonna have for dinner tonight?

I didn't think about it and now I. Just like scrambling something together. And that's when we're of course more likely to choose, the less healthier options. So if you can take 20 minutes on Sunday to even just think about what you're gonna have that's gonna be helpful. And you don't have to plan out every meal.

But maybe just to have a couple things that you know you can have for the more committed doing. Maybe a little bit of meal prep on a Sunday. And again, you don't have to pre prep every meal. You can maybe just chop some veggies so that it's easier to actually integrate those veggies into your lunches and dinners.

Maybe, making a dip and a salad dressing so that those are just on hand for the week. So it doesn't have to be this really overwhelming task. It can just be some really simple things that do end up being big time savers and just help you make it easier to make those healthy choices throughout.

For sure. It's just about being that proactive instead of the reactive. Cuz when we're reactive then we're grabbing for things that are quick and easy and therefore likely to be a little bit less healthy versus taking that time to plan. So it is that shift in perspective going I need to do this to give myself that wellbeing.

Because often it's like this idea that we think that we should just generally be healthy, but it takes so much time and energy to do that. But if we do it in a pleasant way, if we get inspired by different recipes or we ask people like, Hey, like what kind of foods do you like to cook for dinner? Or what kind of things really inspire you in terms of eating or snacks or different things or trying new foods, Things that you normally wouldn't eat.

Totally. Yeah. And absolutely like finding a cookbook that you just really enjoy cooking from can be hugely beneficial. And for anyone in BC there is a really cool program that is usually running conjunction with the farmer's markets where you can actually get coupons to shop at the local farmer's market.

So that's something for folks to check out. And especially if you're struggling as most of us are, I think these days with our grocery budget. Yeah, it's a such a cool program. Yeah, for sure. Always check the flyer and see what's on sale and see if you can buy things when they're on sale.

Put them in the freezer if you need to and pull them out for when, like you're actually ready to cook them. But then you end up saving a lot of money instead of buying something just whenever you want it, when sometimes it will cost more at that time as well. Yeah, for sure. , it's been so wonderful talking to you today.

Has there been anything that we've missed or that you would still like to cover? Oh man. I feel like it's like a giant can of worms. There's just so much you could talk about. Yeah. Within the gut. But I think maybe just the last piece I would end on would be for all of us, we're all, I think modern life is just stressful.

We all have so many stressors in our life. . And so one of the pieces that can be a real challenge is that even if you ate the perfect diet, had all your supplements, like perfect diet, if you still have really unchecked stress, you are not going to see like your gut health is still going to suffer. So it is really important as well to make sure that we're, thinking about our stress thinking about how stress shows up in our body.

What are the signals that our body shows us that tells us we're stressed. Whether it's oh, we become more forgetful, we're more snappy on our kids and our partner. And then having, I always like for my clients to get them to do a really big brain dump of a huge list of things that they can do that they know.

No matter what or, and I guess we do a big brain drop of things they can do when they're stressed out that are gonna help just get them more grounded, a little more calm, more into that parasympathetic state. And I have them pick three to five that they know they can do. Even if they were in like a, a bit of a depression or a real bad low, they can still turn to those things to.

And then of course for all of us, where can we say no? Where can we, take things off our plate? I think we're all really overworked and overscheduled. And so the power of no is really huge. And that doesn't just help your stress. It helps your mental health and your gut health, and it's gonna be really positive.

For sure. That's so lovely. I so appreciate I can just see you have such a passion for this field and I really appreciate you joining us today and I think a lot of the information out there I believe it'll be really helpful for a lot of people. I hope so. Thanks so much, Haley. It was a pleasure talking to you today and I really appreciate the opportunity.

Yeah, thank you. Awesome.