Understanding how your mindset influences your diet
Meg Sylvester is a Mindset Coach with a focus on health and wellbeing. We asked her to delve into her experiences with mental health and nutrition with some commonly asked questions.
What is the most effective way for me to know for sure how foods are negatively impacting my physical, mental, and emotional health?
Go on an elimination diet. For three weeks remove specific food groups commonly known to trigger a disturbance in your body. The key here is to eliminate all these specific food groups at once to give your gut and body a chance to properly heal. After a three-week period, begin adding back in each food group one at a time. As you add in each group, note how you feel, over a 24-hour period, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I’ve had clients who have been so surprised by their increased levels of irritability when gluten was added back into their diet. You’ll start to notice symptoms you thought were attributable to something other than food, like constant congestion, may very likely be linked to a food sensitivity. I love the elimination diet because it helps you to understand two things. First, how awesome you can feel when you aren’t eating foods that disagree with you. And second, you will know exactly how certain foods make you feel, mentally emotionally, and physically. You can make more empowered food choices after you complete an elimination diet.
I’ve tried to eliminate certain foods from my diet but I ended up feeling worse. What gives?
When you eliminate foods that you have been eating on a continual basis for years, you may go through withdrawal symptoms. Especially when eliminating a biggie like sugar. I often hear clients grumble about insomnia and headaches at the beginning of their journeys. But just know that once you get over that hurdle, you’ll feel so much better—mentally, emotionally, and physically. The hurdle of withdrawal symptoms is where most people quit. Don’t give up!
What is mindset reprogramming and how does it relate to my overall health?
One of the biggest reasons we don’t achieve our goals, like exercising regularly or shifting into a healthy way of eating, is because of the mental blocks we’ve been harboring for years. Mindset reprogramming takes these blocks and removes them. We first look at surface issues like procrastination, why you can’t lose weight, or why you sacrifice your own happiness for everyone else’s. Next, we assess your insecurities, fears, and patterns. On another level, we examine stories from your past and take note of how they are shaping the future. From there, we can diagnose the mental, and sometimes subconscious, blocks that have been holding you back. We rewire your mindset by creating small attainable goals combined with a heightened awareness of your thought patterns. I’ve seen clients improve relationships that seemed irreparable, get into the best shape of their lives, and radically change their outlook on life by working through this process. It’s pretty incredible to watch it unfold.
I can’t seem to shake my addiction to sugar. I know now that it’s way more than just a physical thing. Any tips to help me shift my mindset so that I can kick the sugar fixation once and for all?
Simply offering a healthier alternative to a food addiction, such as swapping a soda out for low-sugar kombucha, isn’t enough. What’s missing here is addressing the root cause of the addiction—what’s going on in the mind to make you reach for the soda (or else you’ll just end up drinking eight kombuchas per day–and that’s not cheap!) Here are my three steps to heighten your awareness to the mental state that’s causing you to reach for the sugar, soda, and sweet snacks.
Trigger: Take note of what you’re doing right before you reach for the sugar. See if you can find a pattern in the type of activity. Are you driving, sitting at a computer, fresh off an argument, or running errands?
Feeling: Stop and ask yourself how you are feeling right before you reach for the sugar. Were you feeling bored, mad, anxious, overwhelmed?
*Here’s a tip: sometimes we can’t quite put a word to how we feel, so I ask my clients to put a color to how they feel. For example; ugh man, I feel that yellow color feeling coming on and I don’t like it. This yellow color feeling is what usually prompts me to grab the M&M’s.
Resolution: Ask yourself how you can resolve that feeling. Right now, you are resolving the feeling by numbing it with sugar. But rather than numb it, how can you shape it into an action that turns your mental state around? For example, I had a client who used to have an addiction to Hershey’s Kisses. She ate them when she was sitting at her desk banging out busy work, feeling unaccomplished and bored. A quick action that helped her to feel a sense of small accomplishment was to tidy up her desk. So, when she felt that “yellow” feeling coming on as she was doing busy work, she knew to take a moment to clean her desk and back away from the Hershey’s kisses.
Health, Wellbeing & Lifestyle
Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach
337-274-6627 | megsylvester.com