These are two separate subjects, of course, and both are humongous in scope. For our purposes right now, I want to keep this simple and doable for you.
Part One – Eating Right
Anything that enters your body affects your mind and vice-versa.
You can eat your way to insanity
And you can think your way to poor physical health
The two are not separate. They are intertwined and most doctors seem wholly unaware of this fact, or do not give it the merit it deserves.
Beginning with food, you must only ingest the best sources of nutrition you can find and/or afford.
It matters where your meat came from and where your vegetables came from, how the animals were raised, and what was fed to the plants as they grew. So go with organic as much as possible.
All machines are affected by fuel quality
Think of your body as a race car. If two identical race cars are provided with two sources of fuel, one substandard gas of a common mix and one high test racing fuel, the car with the better fuel is going to go faster and perform better.
Even the same awesome driver will not be able to get the car with the poorer quality gas to go any faster than the car with the higher quality gas. Your body is exactly the same.
First the good
You want as much fruit and vegetables in your day as you can comfortably tolerate. (More vegetables than fruit, though.)
You want them in as close to the form they were picked as you can get. And you want them raw as much as possible. Cooking breaks down many of the nutrients in fruit and vegetables that do your body the most good.
Plants have nutrients in them that are different from vitamins and minerals. Phytonutrients, they’re called. They do wonderful things for you and they can only be found in plants.
Eating veggies uncooked makes sure as much of these phytonutrients get in you as possible. Fruit has similar properties with different names – “good for you” items only found in fruit.
Eat beef occasionally, once or twice a week tops, and choose the leanest cuts possible. No marbling.
Add more fish, chicken, and turkey to your diet.
Bake or broil that fish (or chicken or turkey). No frying. If you must fry, use a spray like PAM but no deep-frying, ever.
Add smoothies to your day, whenever they work best for you, and mix in a protein powder with each. Ideally, you want 10 or 20 grams of protein going into you every three hours. A scoop of hydrolyzed whey protein in a glass of milk, juice, water, or smoothie will do the job well.
Eggs are awesome! They are considered “the perfect food” and are the protein standard that all other protein sources are measured against in the industry.
The proteins in eggs are divided between the yolk and the white, and are totally different from one another. They complement each other and you need both in your diet.
All whites, all the time, is not effective. So make omelets by separating the yolks from the whites. Put two, three, or four whites in a bowl and throw in one or two yolks. Mix ’em up and cook in a pan. They taste great that way and couldn’t be healthier.
Drink more water than you do now. I drink about ½ of a gallon, on up to three gallons per day, depending on how much exercise I’m doing.
Water makes up most of your body and even more of your brain. Running low causes problems.
BUY a filter or BE a filter
Most of our water is contaminated by something these days. It’s unavoidable. For the best source without spending too much, get a water filter of some type.
On a related note, stop buying bottled water. It costs too much, adds plastic to the world, and isn’t always what it claims to be. Just filter your own tap water and you win.
Skim milk. This is the way to go if you are able to drink milk. All milk other than skim has too much fat in it, regardless of percentage. That’s only a marketing ploy.
And the homogenization process makes the fat molecules smaller than they’d be naturally. This allows them to get stuck in tiny places in your body where they turn rancid and then go to work poisoning that part of you. Hello cancer!
Raw milk. You may be in a position to buy raw milk. This is how milk was supposed to be and I could really go on a rant here about why you’d want this over the treated kind we normally buy.
Suffice to say, research it. Know the risks. Learn the benefits. Choose what to do from there. Your body will thank you for the switch, should it occur.
Olive oil. Use it in place of corn oil or butter in most dishes. Olive oil is a “good” fat and has many great healing properties. Make sure it’s traditionally processed by researching the brand you wish to buy.
Coconut oil. Same as above.
That’s a brief rundown of what to put in. Now, what to keep out.
Anything that has been taken from its original form in nature and put in a box, can, or bag, is suspect. Processing food kills the nutrients within. What you’re left with is maybe cellulose (a fiber), and carbs, maybe some fats.
The fats may have been turned into trans fats (horrible) and the protein is probably denatured (no longer useful), too.
The canning process annihilates anything good in a vegetable, so no canned veggies. They’re junk. More harm than good. (This refers to commercially canned goods, not the canning process people do at home.)
Canned fruit is usually buried in syrup. And the good stuff has been hammered out of it as well. Just globs of sugar, soaking in sugar.
Cereal, no matter what the box tells you, is just baked sugar chips (processed flour) coated in sugar. Almost all cold cereal is hazardous to your health. Health food store varieties would be better but even some of them are suspect. Eat cold cereal sparingly.
Prepared hot cereal. Same-same. Sugar wrapped in sugar. Eat whole oats, “old fashioned,” or “rolled oat” oatmeal instead. You want the oat looking like an oat, not grains, or chips, or powdery. Eat it in the form it came out of the fields as.
Fruit snacks. Anything with fruit, other than an actual piece of fruit, is just empty sugar. Poison to your good health.
Sugar, in all its many forms, hides in everything. Some of it is good, in moderation. But most of it, especially in the formats found in the supermarket, are at the root of the obesity epidemic, as well as many mental and physical illnesses.
Fruit juice. If you didn’t squash, press, or squeeze the fruit yourself, it’s just sugar.
Artificial sweeteners. Aspartame and all the rest do not belong in the body. They break down into components found on factory floors. Nervous system disorders and much else happens with consistent intake.
Use Stevia instead, or if you are forced to make the choice, use real sugar over artificial sweeteners. At least it is close to a food source – something recognizable to your digestive system.
Stevia is a perfectly healthy, calorie-free, plant alcohol extract. I use it in my coffee and tea. It also does NOT create an insulin response in diabetics!
Coffee and tea. Yeah. Gotta limit these two, coffee in particular. Caffeine is just a bad idea in a bipolar mind. It also promotes depression, which makes you tired, which makes you drink more coffee, which…
Any stimulants. Guarana, white willow bark, kola nut, ephedrine, diet soda, Red Bull and similar drinks, weight loss pills, all of these will cause a bipolar person to freak out.
Please…please…stop drinking energy drinks if you’re already not feeling well for any reason.
Crackers, cakes, pies, pastries, chips. Mostly sugar, fat, chemicals, trans-fats, unnatural additives, etc. Eat sparingly as these are hard to quit entirely.
Margarine. Oil and water made to stick together is what margarine is. Gross stuff. Use butter. At least it’s real. Or PAM for cooking. Or olive oil. I pretty much use olive oil in place of anything needing butter. Except my oatmeal. I like a little butter in my oatmeal.
Kraft cheese slices. This fascinated me to learn. Same as above. Oil and water hammered together with orange paint. No cheese in those. Gross. Just buy American cheese from the deli.
Sugar in any form. Again, do your best to avoid obvious forms of sugar. But learn to read your labels at the store. Sugar is hidden in everything packaged, usually in the form of a corn derivative.
Corn is worked into most things we eat, or fed to the things we later eat. Corn is everywhere and that is usually not a good thing. Not in the form we get it, which is usually corn syrup.
Also, corn syrup is called by many names. It’s how the illicit food industry gets around labeling laws and marketing issues (i.e, The Truth) to fill out their shitty products and make more money from you as you get sicker for their efforts.
The shit the food industry and its lobbyists pull on The Hill at your expense is staggering. Protect yourself by staying informed!
And there’s a beauty of a related tip: Read your ingredient labels.
They are listed in order of weight. If corn syrup is listed in first or second place, you are eating something that is almost all sugar.
Fat free labeled foods. Usually packed with sugar in order to offset the lack of taste and texture from the fat not being present.
As you can see, this goes on, and on, and on.
So eat most of your food in a day in its most natural form and shop the EDGES of the supermarket. That’s your best move.
Action Plan for Step 6a:
Begin keeping a food journal
Write down what time you ate or drank, what it was, and whatever mood you may have been in around then.
Write down anything that is going on inside you, be it mental or physical.
Just brief notes and this doesn’t have to be exact. You’re looking for links to foods that make you feel bad or times of day when it’s not good to eat something.
You’ll also see clearly what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. This allows you to plan your meals better and make them healthier.
Don’t starve yourself. Just don’t pack yourself full.
I learned this trick from Lee Labrada, a top-four placer at the Mr. Olympia all through the Eighties.
He was famous for his year-round leanness. (He still is, all these years later.)
Never eat until you’re full. Leave the table when you’re close to full but wanting a tiny bit more. You are never as hungry as you think you are in one sitting. If you stop eating before you get full, and wait thirty minutes, you’ll notice you’re not hungry at all. Had you stayed at the table, you would have consumed needless calories, which equals body fat.”
An actual plan for eating right is extensive and varies from one person to the next, based on many factors. Keeping in mind what I said above, eat most foods in their original form, and avoiding as much processed foods as possible.
Start taking an honest look at your fridge and cupboards.
You want to stop eating the junk and that is easy to spot. You want more actual cuts of meat, poultry, and fish in your fridge and freezer than frozen dinners and microwaveable foods.
You want more fruits and vegetables and less pastas and cereals. Grains won’t kill you but keeping them to a minimum is a good idea.
And since we’re discussing food let’s use the following analogy:
“Eat this elephant one bite at a time.”
Don’t go at this like a rabid convert for good health. As you use up snack foods, replace them with good foods when you shop.
Keep some snack foods and chips on hand if you like and dip into them only when you absolutely must. If you try to completely clean up your diet overnight, your cravings will haunt you.
Don’t allow this “eating well attack” turn into an attack on your sanity. They call that Orthorexia and I experienced pieces of it for a few years.
So eat a little less of the bad things one day. Maintain that level of decrease and in a week or two, decrease it a little more. No need to punish yourself into healthy eating. You’ll end up becoming defiant about it and stop trying. EASE into this.
If you normally have three cups of coffee, whittle it down to two and make the third cup a tea instead, or water, or a piece of fruit.
Shop the EDGES of the supermarket more than the aisles. (That bore repeating.)
Cook large portions of food ahead of time, break them down between multiple storage containers, and refrigerate or freeze for later. Cook one time and be able to eat three or four times from that one effort.
What would Will Brink do?
Let Will Brink help you plan your meals and understand how your food choices affect your mindset, energy levels, sense of wellness, and overall performance.
“The Sports Supplement Bible: For Health and Fitness”
This exhaustive, yet simple to read tome is written by Will Brink of the Brink Zone. Will has been in the fitness training industry for decades. He is a no-nonsense type of guy. Harvard graduate. He backs all he says with scads of research. His opinion can’t be bought.
He goes toe to toe with the scammers of the supplement industry, which, sadly, represents over 90% of all supplements for sale. He helps you find the good ones.
Your training needs aside, in order to effectively heal your mind you need to understand the individual food components and their effect on your brain and body.
I read this whole book. At the time, Will had – as side notes – suggestions to take 6 particular nutrients to improve mental health. I had come to the same conclusion about these same six nutrients, prior to reading his book. To have him verify the correctness of my thinking in such an unplanned fashion was a big day for me! Trust Will!
You’ll also find extensive training, meal preparation, injury repair tips and more on the Brink Zone. Take yourself to school by digging through all Will has to share. I can’t recommend him highly enough.