Dear Buzzfeed, I hope you’re proud of yourselves? I hate you and all your nuisance dietary fads.
I’m on day three of the ‘Clean Living Challenge.’ http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/clean-eating-challenge-day-1 Why you ask? Well, for years I’ve been told that a healthy diet can help to significantly reduce anxiety. My initial reaction to this was ‘bollocks’ (and still is at this stage.) If eating a few carrots was enough to calm my nerves, then I’d be practically orange by now.
I find it hard to understand how food can have such an impact on the brain. To a certain extent, yes of course there are a few obvious tips such as; don’t drink ten cups of coffee each day, or a pint of Red Bull if you’re feeling jittery. But bread, chocolate and red meat? Surely they can’t make that much of a difference.
In particular alcohol is my vice. I do enjoy a glass of red after a long day at work, or a few G&Ts in the pub. Again, I know that scientifically alcohol is bad for anxiety… but I can’t believe it. It helps me to unwind, so maybe I’m the exception to the rule? She says naively.
Before I agreed to accept the challenge I needed some hard evidence to prove why food can have such an impact on anxiety. Thanks to Mayo Clinic, I found my answers:
- Eat complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains — for example, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. Steer clear of foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks.
- Eat a breakfast that includes some protein. Eating protein at breakfast can help you feel fuller longer and help keep your blood sugar steady so that you have more energy as you start your day.
- Drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration can affect your mood.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. The immediate effect of alcohol may be calming. But as alcohol is processed by your body, it can make you edgy. Alcohol can also interfere with sleep.
- Limit or avoid caffeine. Avoid caffeinated beverages. They can make you feel jittery and nervous and can interfere with sleep.
Bugger, this all seems rather plausible.
So I finally decided to give this a trial. I’m curious to see whether or not it makes a difference to my mood and energy levels.
Consequently, let me give you a brief recap of the past three days.
Day 1: RAGE, so much RAGE. Everyone and everything was in danger (especially Kale.)
Day 2: Tired and depressed. I felt very unhappy with my life and knew that only bread, wine and a crème egg could fix it. (I stayed strong.)
Day 3 (Today): Literally so exhausted I’m surprised that I haven’t collapsed into my keyboard. It’s taking me twice as long to complete simple tasks.
So as you can see, it’s going really well. But if I make any more grammatical errors that usual in this post, blame it on the clean living.
Last night I was ready to pack the whole thing in. I felt ten times worse than usual, not better! It clearly wasn’t working…. Then I reasoned that 48 hours might be a little impatient to expect great results. So I did some more research instead. Apparently I’m feeling worse because my body is going through the ‘withdrawal’ stage. It’s craving all the poisons which normally coarse though my veins; Sugar, gluten, alcohol. For example, in his book; Sweet Poison, David Gillespie argues that sugar is this generation’s heroin, in regards to it’s addictive compounds. Scary stuff huh?
So I shall stay strong and will strictly continue the plan until Sunday. I can battle these nasty side-affects (I think.) I’m genuinely intrigued to see how my body feels when it’s 100% detoxed.
However, next week I shall be making a few changes before I jump off a cliff that are more realistic.
- I can have ONE 175ml glass of red wine on Sunday & Monday. Red is good for the blood, (it is I swear!) Plus, it’s a bank holiday for God’s sake.
- I’m allowed to eat brown rice. Yes I realise that counts as processed food, but I’m bloody starving and Quinoa is just depressing.
I’d say these aren’t too controversial for a woman on the edge.
I will also continue to document my results and report back next week (you lucky things!)
If you’re as barmy as me and decided to undertake this challenge yourself, I do have a few useful words of wisdom:
- Begin on a Sunday. Don’t start on a Monday (like me) as you’ll be really tired and angry. It’s better to be in an environment where you can relax and snooze if you need to.
- Plan ahead. Preparing your own meals from scratch is more time consuming than you think (Buzzfeed are liars, don’t trust them.) So be sure to get out of bed a good 15 minutes early to prepare your lunch for the day.
- Keep your diary clear. You won’t be feeling like a happy bunny, so it’s probably best to go home and relax.
- Leave your debit card at home. This is the main thing that is stopping me from going out for a drink after work. I literally don’t have any money, so I can’t.
- Put your own spin on things. A banana and kale smoothie? I don’t frigging think so! I added raspberries to mine and a tiny drop of honey.
Ok, I’m off to go and stare at a packet of Hobnobs. Staring and smelling are allowed.
Wish me luck everyone and if you spot me in the street, approach at your own risk…..