If you’re on social media you’ll notice that many people’s photos and captions lately depict them drinking copious amounts of coffee, making banana bread or starting to drink alcoholic beverages early on in the day, since there is nowhere to go and nothing to do (due to social distancing).
While it may seem innocent and fun, and many have the mentality as to ‘why not?’ People may be doing this out of pure stress and anxiety due to our current state of the world. Anxiety is not an ideal coping mechanism because caffeine, sugar and alcohol can worsen your symptoms, leading to more or intensified feelings of anxiety and stress.
Well, then why do I feel so good when drinking or eating it? Let’s take a closer look at each of them individually to understand more.
Since coffee is often the first thing you drink in the morning, it’ll be the first we discuss here. While at first sip, you might experience feelings of euphoria and almost a level of comfort by drinking it, it is your neurotransmitter dopamine that is released when consuming caffeine, giving you those initial feelings.
Dopamine is a mood-enhancer, so it’s no wonder that caffeine often makes you feel good! However, as you drink more and more caffeine, your body becomes more tolerant of caffeine and becomes desensitized to it, and your ability to produce dopamine in its presence decreases.
As we previously mentioned in another blog post, scent and smell are closely linked to your brain and why smelling a particular scent can bring on specific feelings. So if you’re a regular coffee drinker, it’s likely just your mind playing tricks on you that lead you feeling all warm and fuzzy and not the coffee itself!
Now let’s talk about why coffee isn’t a great thing to be consuming for someone with pre-existing anxiety. Caffeine stimulates the production of cortisol and epinephrine, which are two of the key players in stress response. Cortisol acts more long term, while epinephrine is a shorter-term response hormone, but either one is not ideal to stimulate unnecessarily when you suffer from anxiety.
We’re not here to tell you you can’t drink coffee anymore, but realistically it would be in your best interest to limit your coffee intake to one a day and substitute your afternoon pick-me-up with a coffee substitute or herbal tea.
We wouldn’t recommend you to do this without giving you a recipe to try, so pick up these ingredients at your next curbside order and enjoy the richness of this Dandy Blend Mocha Latte, sans caffeine! Dandy Blend is a combination of five healthy ingredients: dandelion, barley, rye, chicory and beetroot, so not only are you reducing your caffeine intake when consuming this, but you’re also getting the added benefits of antioxidants and minerals.
Don’t worry, even though it contains barley and rye, it is considered gluten-free due to the processing method!
Dandy Blend Reishi Mocha Latte
- 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk or the milk of your choice
- 1 tsp Dandy Blend more or less, to taste
- 1 tsp Botanica Reishi Hot Chocolate Powder
- 1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
- Nature's Emporium Cinnamon to taste
- Heat milk on the stove until warm.
- Remove from heat and add dandy blend, reishi powder, collagen and cinnamon and whisk until fully combined.
- Pour into your mug and enjoy!
Who hasn’t indulged in a “quarantini” or two since being isolated at home, especially with many of us being more stressed and on edge than usual? Alcohol is a common thing we reach for when we want to de-stress, after all, it does act as a sedative and depresses your central nervous system, leading to a calming feeling throughout the body.
How many times have you left work after a long, stressful day just to reach for that glass (or bottle) of wine when arriving home or headed out for after-work drinks with your colleagues? While it may feel like it works at the moment to help calm your nerves as it does have similar effects of anti-anxiety medication, the long term effects or after-effects of drinking alcohol for someone with anxiety can be more damaging to their mental health.
The issue with alcohol and stress and anxiety is that alcohol impacts many types of neurotransmitters in the brain that help to regulate your brain activity and mental state. Each neurotransmitter plays a role in controlling mood and anxiety, and when they are impacted by alcohol, they become out of balance, worsening your symptoms of anxiety.
This is not to say you cannot enjoy an alcoholic beverage when you are stressed, but beware that the effects of feeling good are short term and learning to deal with the root cause of your anxiety is key in making yourself better, not relying on boozy beverages.
If you are inclined to try a new alternative to your beverage of choice, we have a great substitution that mimics what you typically love in an alcoholic beverage.
Our Kale Mojito Mocktail includes one of our signature cold-pressed juices, which is already a healthier option to consume due to the high volume of vitamins and minerals you’ll be taking in when drinking it. Paired with some probiotic-rich water kefir and fizzy flavoured soda water, you have the perfect combination of fruity flavour and carbonation that we all typically look for in a cocktail without any alcohol and way less sugar!
Kale Mojito Mocktail
- ¾ cup Nature’s Emporium Cold Pressed Kale Mojito
- 1 bottle Kevita Sparkling Fermented Drink Lime Mint Coconut
- 1 can La Croix Lime Water
- 1 sprig Fresh Organic Mint Leaves crushed
- 1 Organic Lime sliced
- In a pitcher, add all liquids: kale mojito, lime mint coconut fermented drink and lime water and stir until well combined.
- Add crushed leaves, a few slices of limes and stir.
- Pour into your glass over ice and enjoy!
As we just mentioned sugar is another food you’ll want to try and reduce during these stressful times. The average person consumes about 70-100g of added sugars per day. That’s 3-4 times the amount recommended (25g).
If you think about it though, it makes sense since a can of pop contains around 33g! That’s more than recommended daily intake in one beverage and that doesn’t include the sugar you have in your morning coffee, the sugar in your afternoon cookies and whatever other sweets or drinks you’re snacking on throughout the day. But how does sugar impact your mood and anxiety?
Well, there’s a few trains of thought when it comes to this. First, it is known that sugar impacts your blood sugar. When we’re constantly consuming excess sugar, it causes your blood sugar to interact with other body systems that impact the amount of cortisol being produced in the body, and we now know from learning earlier in the post, how cortisol is a key player in the stress response system. Additionally, it could be the impact sugar is having on these neurotransmitters we keep talking about, specifically serotonin, which is our feel-good hormone.
When excess sugar is consumed, it leads to an imbalance of serotonin levels, which is not something we need when we already have stress or anxiety in our lives, as this worsens the symptoms we experience during times of stress and anxiety. We also know that a large portion of serotonin is stored in our gut and what directly impacts our gut health? Sugar! Our bodies are made up of more bacteria cells than human cells and much of that is concentrated in our guts. When we feed our bodies excess sugar, the bad microbes that reside within us, eat it up and start to proliferate in numbers and cause a microbiome imbalance that leads to what we know as leaky gut. In your gut is something called the enteric nervous system which is a network of neurons that communicates with your central nervous system.
When you suffer from a leaky gut, there is often miscommunication that occurs between the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system which can lead to irregular emotional responses, ie, stress and anxiety. The good news is though, there is a healthier way to consume sugars and it is in the form that Mother Nature has provided us with, as delicious sweet-tasting fruits! Again, you can overeat fruits, but making your sweets out fruit-based foods is a good way to consume your favourite baked goods, as opposed to adding a bunch of cane sugar to the recipe.
Additionally, there are many other alternative sweeteners available on the market that act as a sweet substitute, which can be included in your recipes as well! These include stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, and xylitol (but be cautious of xylitol in your home if you have pets – it can be deadly for them if consumed!). Don’t be fooled by the other artificial sweeteners available, such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose and saccharin that all pose health risks of their own (that’s a whole other blog in itself!). For your personal baking needs, we have included two recipes, including Peanut Brownies using fruit sugars and a Lemon Raspberry Loaf that uses one of the alternative options.
Who said your favourite sweets couldn’t also be healthy!
Fudgy Brownies With Peanut Butter Drizzle
- ½ cup Applesnax Unsweetened Applesauce
- ½ cup Organic Sweet Potato cooked and puréed
- ½ cup Nature’s Emporium Dates reconstituted and blended into a paste
- ½ cup Organic Avocado ripe and mashed
- 1 tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
- 2 chia eggs
- ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour
- ½ cup Camino Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp Purest Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Lumiere de Sel Himalayan Salt
- ½ cup peanuts crushed
- ¼ cup Lily’s Semi-Sweet Style Baking Chocolate Chips or use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to make this dairy-free
- 4 tbsp Nature’s Emporium Smooth Peanut Butter
- 1 tbsp peanuts crushed
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease an 8”x8” baking dish and line with parchment paper, leaving some parchment paper to extend over the sides so you can easily pull the brownies out of the baking dish once fully baked.
- Using a food processor, add all your wet ingredients: applesauce, sweet potato, date paste, avocados, vanilla extract and chia eggs until smooth.
- In a bowl, combine all your dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until completely blended.
- Add dry ingredients to the food processor and blend until fully combined then pulse in the peanuts.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and spread evenly, baking for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
- Prepare icing by using a double broiler. Melt chocolate chips and 2 tbsp of peanuts until smooth and creamy.
- Using a spatula, spread the icing over the brownies, drizzle the remaining peanut butter over the icing and sprinkle crushed peanuts on top. Cut and serve. Enj
Lemon Raspberry Loaf
- 1 ½ cups Nature’s Emporium Almond Flour
- ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour
- 1 tsp Purest Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Purest Baking Soda
- ¼ cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread room temperature
- ½ cup Swerve Confectioner Sweetener
- 1 organic lemon zested
- 3 Nature’s Emporium Eggs room temperature
- 2 tbsp Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
- 2 tbsp Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 3 tbsp Riviera Maison Plain Coconut Yogurt
- 2 tbsp Freshly Squeezed Organic Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup frozen organic raspberries
- ½ tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Powder
- ⅓ cup Swerve Confectioner Sweetener
- 1 ½ tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
- ½ tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9”x5” loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving some parchment paper to extend over the sides so you can easily pull the loaf out of the loaf pan once fully baked.
- In a small bowl, add frozen raspberries and arrowroot flour and set aside.
- In a bowl whisk together all dry ingredients: almond and coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, combine butter, sweetener and lemon zest and whip until creamy.
- Add in eggs, one at a time, blend well and add the next and repeat.
- Then add oil, lemon juice, coconut milk, yogurt and vanilla and blend well.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend until fully combined (slowly mixing and stopping, mixing and stipping). Remember not to over mix!
- Fold in the raspberries until well combined.
- Pour mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until the bread springs back to the touch, then place on a cooling rack until completely cool.
- Prepare icing by mixing together confectioner sweetener, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Pour over cooled loaf and wait for it to harden. You can garnish with fresh raspberries and lemon zest.
- Slice, serve and enjoy!
We hope the information provided helps you understand the connection to your body and mind, as there is no disconnect between the two. Our bodies are one whole being and all the systems are uniquely interconnected.
We hope we’ve given you a different perspective of how certain things you consume can do quite the opposite of what you think they may be doing and how it may be further contributing to issues you currently have.
We’re not saying you can have fun while in quarantine, but want you to have the information and recipes to make better choices moving forward.
More from #ThrivingWithNatures