A few weeks ago myself and Wellanicity gave a ‘Nutrition and Mental Health’ workshop to students of St. Fanahans Secondary School in Mitchelstown Co. Cork. The school teamed up with the fantastic charity cycle against suicide. In doing so the school ran a wellness day for its students. There was a range of workshops organised; yoga, mindfulness, chakra, meditation, boxercise, colour therapy and nutrition and its impact on mental health. The aim of the day was to show students how they themselves, can positively impact their mental health. All students unfortunately have a connection with suicide, self harm or depression. Exercise, meditation and of course nutrition all work together to promote an overall sense of wellness.
Our role for the day was to talk about nutrition. Food powers every cell in the body allowing our body to function correctly. But it also powers the brain. If we choose to fuel our brain with ‘rubbish’ we will feel rubbish. If we choose to fuel our brain with ‘good’ food we will feel good. For me, it is as simple as that. The main food group that will negatively impact our brain functioning is sugar. So this was our main focus for the workshop.
We had a number of activities arranged. One such activity was to get the students to match up a variety of food products with the correct volume of sugar. The results were surprising to the students. When we questioned the reason for eating these sugary products, it generally came back to habit, or not being aware of better alternatives.
Below are some of the results of the activity.
Lets take a closer look at some. An obvious high sugar snack first. Most people are aware that skittles are very high in sugar. Did you think it was this high?
So you may not give your kids skittles as you probably know they are full of sugar. So instead you might choose a ‘natural’ product like these? Don’t be fooled by the way companies market their products. There is nothing natural about these.
One of my absolute favourite chocolate treats.
Thankfully I have converted to the darker side. It may not taste as good but I am learning to love it!
Is anyone really surprised by this one?
So the next time you go to the cinema and have a coke and bag of maltesers. This is the amount of sugar you are feeding your brain with. And this is only a can, not a large coke cinema serving size.
Think about this. For breakfast you give you child/teenager frosties (sugar) or white toast (sugar). For lunch you give them a white bread roll (sugar), a yogurt (sugar), and a chocolate bar (sugar). For dinner you give them white pasta (sugar). Watching TV they have some biscuits (sugar). How then can we expect our children to go to school, sit for hours and ask them to focus and concentrate. We wind them up all day feeding their brain with sugar and then ask that brain to focus. Really? That is just asking too much.
Lets move away from this…
And move towards this…
Or better still try some of our Energy Bites…
2 tblsps coconut flour
4 tbsp oats
4 medjool dates (chopped)
2 tsp any preferred nut butter
1 tbsp Honey or any sweetener
Mix, mix mix…roll, roll, roll
The kids will love making these.
Not only will these foods make us look better, but they will promote positive mental health. At the end of the day, what does it matter if we look well if we don’t feel well. Mental health is the most important aspect to our overall health
The Wholesome Nut