Category Archives: Mind•Body•Soul

10 Foods Impacting Your Mood

Did you know the food you eat can literally make you feel happy or sad? Nutrition is one of the main components of mental health, so it’s important to stock your plate with good food while cutting some of those less beneficial alternatives.

“Food can definitely alter your mood,” says Dr. Shoshana Bennett.“Sometimes the effect is immediate, other times there’s a delay of an hour or so. Over time, the wrong foods can create a continuous foul mood or negative state of mind. Many people still aren’t making the connection between their emotional well-being and what they ate for dinner – or the last 200 dinners.”

Bennett explains that certain foods can negatively affect the neurotransmitters in our brains; these chemicals control sleep, appetite, mood and more. Bad foods can also cause inflammation, which may lead to other physical and mental disorders. She recommends eating these five types of food to feel happy, healthy and balanced:

1. Complex carbohydrates
Foods like beans, potatoes and whole grains are necessary for staying upbeat, as the complex carbohydrates they contain help the brain make serotonin, a mood-changing chemical. Without enough complex carbohydrates, a person can become angry and depressed.

 2. Cold-water fish
Salmon, mackerel and sardines are high in the omega-3s that help boost mood. Several studies show that a deficit in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to anxiety and depression. Most people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fresh, cold-water fish, so supplements are required.

“It’s important to use omega-3 supplements of pure quality,” says Bennett. “This means knowing where the fish comes from and how the supplements are manufactured.”

3.  Selenium
“Research shows people with low levels of the mineral selenium have poorer moods, including the tendency toward depression,” Bennett says.

Foods rich in selenium include shellfish, tuna, nuts, seeds, fish, pork, chicken and pasta. Bennett cautions that too much of this mineral is not healthy either, and recommends checking with a health care practitioner for guidance before taking selenium as a supplement.

4. Folic acid
A diet too low in folic acids can deplete serotonin. Research suggests that depression can be relieved by taking folate supplements or eating more food containing folate, such as spinach, lentils, garbanzo and other beans, romaine lettuce and broccoli.

“Folate is water-soluble, so your body does not store it,” says Bennett. “You need to eat foods regularly that contain it.”

5.  Vitamin D
Vitamin D-rich foods like eggs, milk, cheese and fatty fish (like tuna) help to activate serotonin. Furthermore, research shows a strong connection between low levels of vitamin D and symptoms of depression.

Knowing what foods to skip is just as important as knowing which foods to eat, so Bennett recommends cutting down on these “bad-mood foods”:

1. Sugar
Eating sugar provides a rush of energy, but soon afterward, blood glucose levels drop and lead to low mood and short-temperedness.

2. Sweeteners
Aspartame and other sweeteners can cause depression and insomnia since they block the production of serotonin. If you want a sweetener but are trying to avoid sugar, use stevia or xylitol instead.

3.  Processed carbs
Snack foods, white bread, most cereals and pasta contain processed carbs that negatively affect blood sugar levels the same way as sugar.

4. Hydrogenated oils
Trans fats are physically and mentally dangerous because they can contribute to depression and other illnesses.

5. Sodium
High sodium can negatively affect the neurological system and contribute to depression and fatigue.

“You don’t have to make major changes all at once,” says Bennett. “It’s often more beneficial if one small, realistic alteration is made at a time. Once you experience the payoff – not just read or hear about them – then it becomes fun!”

The Risks We Take

I’ve always admired risk takers. You know, thrill seekers in helmets jumping off bridges or flying through the air with GoPro cameras strapped to their heads. I envy their rosy cheeks and deep smiles and brightly colored outfits.

Everything about them screams “I’m alive!” while everything in me just screams at the thought of zip lining across a 400 foot mountain gorge.  My lack of risk taking has long been a dark spot on my soul. I even have a difficult time hitting on a guy in a bar.

Until I realized risks don’t always mean jumping off a cliff.

I have a good friend, named Kurt. I adore him. And as it happens, he adores me. One night over dinner he asked if I would join him in completing his global To-Do list. As soon as the question left his mouth, my brain became a vortex of possible complications… what about my dog? My apartment? My parents need me and there’s all those planes disappearing in that pesky ocean.

My late thirty-something self couldn’t do it. My girlfriends thought I was insane. Who would turn down a proposition like that?

Me. I would. The girl who doesn’t take risks. I wasn’t saying no to traveling all over the world, I was saying no settling for someone I adored instead of loved. Even if that person did come with two plane tickets to Bali.  I believed something bigger was waiting for me.

Not long after Kurt, I decided to do something really stupid: become an artist. Just me and my craft facing the world and my checking account! I would pursue my artistic dreams. When I told friends, they were in awe. I could see the gleam of envy in their eyes. Or maybe it was shock at my lack of desire to work in an office for the rest of my life with health insurance and a regular paycheck.

heatherAfter I downed a bottle of my favorite wine, I convinced myself I was indeed doing the right thing. But this kind of risk is terrifying. Everything in my life is a variable upon things I can’t control… like the weather or if my dog decides he wants to pee on my running shoes.

However, I’m breathless when I look back on my decisions. The risk taker would understand. The thrill seeker jumping off the side of a mountain to fly around like a bat on a summers’ day would get it. I’m one of them now.

 

Written by Heather A. Haines

I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

Starting from a relatively young age, many girls are discouraged from seeking leadership positions because of some learned fear of power. Whether we can pinpoint the origin of that fear down to one specific moment or not, the truth is in the statistics; women simply don’t aim for coveted leadership positions as often as men do.

In 2012, a study done by the U.S. Labor force determined that 51% of working Americans were women, but females held only 18% of all Corporate Officer positions. In 2011, the Washington Post reported that only one third of the top 50 colleges in the country had female student body presidents. Those numbers drop dramatically in high schools and middle schools. Growing up, I remember being discouraged from running for class president because everybody knew a girl would never win. But where does this fear come from?

Many women actually feel that being the head of large groups like student government, or even a corporation is ultimately less effective than putting their energy into a smaller venture that impacts more people. However, as a gender, we are missing out on opportunities to create tangible change by letting the boys have all the glory. Following the success of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which provides encouragement, advice, and strategy to women in the workplace and other leadership positions, many famous women have stepped up and spoken out about their thoughts on female leaders.

Beyoncé and Jennifer Garner have led one of the most popular campaigns, explaining that many women and girls are simply afraid of being called bossy or bitchy. After decades of having our place in the world defined by the space not otherwise occupied by men, women who come near to crossing that invisible line are often called out for being out of their place. Women who are assertive are often called bossy and overbearing, while men with the same disposition are praised for their work ethic and passion.

So how do we combat this double standard? Dianne Von Furstenberg suggests we “just ban the word bossy!” Garner says being labeled matters, and encourages other women to think twice before calling other women names. Just because we don’t agree with a particular leadership style, doesn’t mean that woman is a bitch—she is working just as hard as you are to level the very uneven playfield. Ultimately, Beyoncé’s advice is as golden as her long locks; “Be brave, be you. I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”

 

Written by Eleanor Haeg

Love and Trust Yourself

Being recently divorced, it’s a struggle to write an article for the wedding issue. I feel like I don’t know much about the topic of marriage, but I do know a lot about being in an unhealthy and toxic relationship. It is dangerous, and breaks you down to the worst version of yourself.

My problem started with the engagement. I said “yes” because I didn’t know how to say no. I knew in my gut I wasn’t ready for marriage. I also knew my now-ex-husband was not the right person for me. Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, I chalked it up to nervous jitters and said “ok” to everything everyone else wanted and expected.  I thought I could make it work, and if not, there’s always a way to undo it.

I also never even wanted a wedding ceremony. I knew it would stress me out and cost more than I could afford. I did not want to deal with the stress of my own divorced parent’s issues on the day of the wedding, but I agreed to a ceremony because my fiancé and my mother both thought I should have one. I didn’t trust my own gut and I didn’t do what I wanted. I was stressed out, spent more money than I had, and wasn’t happy about any of it.

Because I didn’t listen to my own truth, my own gut, I was resentful. I lost myself and felt trapped, alone and scared. When there are lies upon lies, there cannot be trust. And without trust, there cannot be love.

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The life lesson in all of it is, “TRUST YOUR GUT.” Learn to really love yourself BY yourself.

The idea of a lover, a companion, a partner for life is wonderful.  However, forcing something you know isn’t right can not work – and it’s not worth it. I overlooked red flags. I believed the lies because I wanted it to be right.  I accommodated beyond my comfort level. I was afraid to take a stand on what was unacceptable.

I wish I had the guts and sense of self-worth to do what I knew in my heart was right for me years ago.

The wedding itself can be a fun celebration, but none of it is worth it if you don’t know, love and honor yourself first.  When you do, you don’t accept unacceptable treatment. And you know the cause of unacceptable treatment isn’t YOU – it’s them.

The flowers, the dress, the rings, the decorations, the band or DJ will all work to create the fantasy of “happily ever after.” But if you are not happy and do not truly love yourself now (without depending on validation from someone else) you won’t be happy “ever after” either.

by Heather Quintana, Certified Health Coach

Extraordinary Women

We all know at least one extraordinary woman who deserves recognition. We are currently working on something BIG to help you recognize the women in our area who are making a difference in the lives of others. Please send your nomination, their photo and 100 words describing them to bella@beckmediagroup.com. Include your name and phone number in the email so we can reach you with questions. They could be included in an upcoming issue of Bella Magazine!

 

Melanoma Awareness Month

One in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime. Think of 50 people you know. Now, ask yourself if those 50 people wear sunscreen every time they go out in the sun. We are all human, and it is easy to forget sometimes. Buying additional bottles of suncreen for your car and workplace can help you get into the routine– but first you need to know why that routine is important.
Life is about time. Everyone wants just a little more. However, we are often rushing to get to the next enjoyable moment, and sometimes we forget to prepare for preventable catastrophe. According to the American Cancer Society, one person dies of melanoma every 57 minutes. It takes about five minutes to apply sunscreen on yourself and one very active child. In those five minutes, you could be adding years to your life.
woman-putting-sunscreen-on-child-300x199It is almost bikini season, and that means millions of people are flocking to tanning salons. A startling number of those individuals are teenagers. Do not let your insecurities be your death sentence. Before you get back in the tanning bed this year, consider this: people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for skin cancer by 75 percent. Take it from someone who is pale, with a history of cancer in her family. Those who love you would rather see your pale skin than visit you in the hospital because you wanted a tan for the summer.
My father has battled potentially cancerous moles for years. Up until recently, he often “forgot” to wear sunscreen, despite numerous warnings from his doctor. One such incident resulted in a sunburn on his legs that sent him to the emergency room. Last summer, I asked my 8-year-old sister to remind him to use sunscreen when he went outside. I even went so far as to say, “If daddy doesn’t wear sunscreen he could end up very sick and back in the hospital.”
A few weeks passed, and one day I received a phone call from my dad. He said, with a little sarcasm, “I just wanted to thank you for what you said to your sister. She will not let me leave the house without sunscreen now.”
It doesn’t matter how annoyed you feel by those five minutes you spend putting on sunscreen. What matters is that someone cares enough about you to remind you to do it. So, do us a favor. Grab a piece of paper and write, “sunscreen” on it. Tape it next to your door, and place the bottle of sunscreen somewhere nearby. We care about you, and we hope you will do your best to protect yourself from harmful UV rays this summer.

P.S. You can add additional protection with clothing that carries a UPF rating of 50+. We love products from UV Skinz, and this month they are offering a free baby sunshirt with every order! You should also check out the gorgeous scarves and gloves from Bloxsun for fashionable accessories that offer amazing coverage and protection.

Battle Scars

An artistic alternative to living with mastectomy scars

Every woman should take pride in her body. After a mastectomy, many breast cancer survivors find it difficult to look at their bodies in the same way. The procedure is invasive and life-changing, but it is often necessary in the fight against the disease. Each survivor handles this differently, and some have decided to cover their scars with tattoos. One local artist has made an offer to help those who wish to pursue that path.

monicamoses1Monica Moses realized she wanted to be a tattoo artist after she got her first tattoo. One of the first females to pursue the profession in Roanoke, she remained with the same shop for fourteen years. An international award winning artist, she tattooed people all over Europe and the United States during that time. She opened her own studio, Electric Eye Custom Tattoos, early this year in Floyd.

Recently, one of her long time friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy. As a result, Moses was inspired to offer free tattoos to breast cancer survivors who wish to cover or work around their scars. “[My friend] is a strong fighter and one of my heroes. I have tattooed mastectomy scars before. If these women can battle that and survive, then it is the least I can do to help them feel beautiful again.”

Any scars that patrons wish to cover must be at least three years old because there is a high rejection rate. However, if scars are more recent than that, she can tattoo around them. Whether a patron is a breast cancer survivor or not, she wants everyone who visits her shop to walk away with a creation of which they can be proud for the rest of their lives.

“I do custom tattoos here. Each tattoo is drawn specifically for the person who receives it– down to the lettering.” In case you are wondering, that means your tattoo is not just a picture on the wall that six other people have requested. Patrons should come prepared with an idea of what they want. The task before Moses, as an artist, is to bring their idea to life.  She can also recreate any piece of art for her customers.

monicamosesTattoos help tell the story of your life.  They can be as interesting or as mysterious as you wish for them to be. For breast cancer survivors, it offers a different type of illustration to a story that they not only bravely fought, but survived.

If you are interested in seeing more work from Moses, or if you would like her to create something for you, call (540)467-8578 or visit her Facebook page.

Have a Riot: The Anti-Diet

Written by Beth Herman

Winter will not give us a break! Noses that drip and stuffed up ears. Fevers that reach 102 degrees, and pink eye that requires two prescriptions and three weeks to relent. An impassable driveway. Temperatures below 40 degrees three weeks in a row. Snow, snow and more snow. But the most annoying thing about this endless winter?  The hash it’s made of my running schedule.

running

I’m an unimpressive runner.  Very slow, I stop to use the bathroom every 20 – 30 minutes, get lapped by runners younger and fitter, and passed by those larger and older. I’m not winning medals or breaking any records.But so what! Running makes me feel like a rock star; strong and lean, and I drop it into conversation every chance I get.

Quite simply, I am in love with running. Thrilled with my increased energy level, I adore the couple of uninterrupted hours it gives my husband and me to talk every other morning.  Most importantly, running has kept me fit without the stress of dieting, which is not easy at 51 years old.

What this involves is a shift of perspective. Instead of obsessing about what that brownie, cupcake or extra helping of mashed potatoes will add on the scale, think instead of how what you eat affects your workouts.  You don’t have to run marathons. Walking, Nia, or tennis will do. Thinking of yourself as an athlete, your food choices are filtered through that lens. I want those cookies but I am not supposed to have them, becomes, I need to eat some turkey to properly fuel myself for my workout in an hour.

 

Negativity and denial, dangerous issues when it comes to weight, are removed from the equation. Here are some ideas:

1)      Allow yourself to fall in love; cultivate an interest in walking, running, yoga, or nia.  Read everything you can on the activity, as if you were preparing to learn knitting, Spanish cooking or bird watching.

2)      It’s never too late to start. I didn’t begin running until my mid forties.

3)      Take ego, appearance and weight out of it. Thoughts like, “I have to do this because it will help me to lose weight,” are negative. Do your regular workout as a result of your commitment to the activity.

4)      Begin with baby steps: I started out running up and down my driveway, now I can go up to 90 minutes at a time.

tennisshoes

5)      Find a mentor. People enjoy helping others pursue a shared passion. My guru was a single woman 21 years my junior. An accomplished runner who had run every U.S. marathon at least twice, she came to my neighborhood once a week, keeping me laughing and distracted as we hauled up the hills of my development. She lives in Europe now with her husband and new baby.These days when we get together it’s over a meal and a glass of wine- and I don’t even count the calories!

 

In addition to being a runner, Beth Herman is an artist and essayist.