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08 Sep, 2021

How to Feel Great Part 2: Eating for Brain Power

To try and dissociate what we choose to eat with how our body then functions is akin to suggesting that you could go swimming and not get wet. This week we're looking at how to eat to address brain fog, mental clarity and overall cognitive acuteness.

Health

There is a significant need to focus on the topic of brain fog, mental clarity and overall cognitive acuteness because the lessening of all these things is often touted as being ‘normal’. Well, we're here to tell you it isn't.

Our brains use 50% of the energy we take in every single day, so we really need to be hot on making sure there is ample to go around. In certain cases, intermittent fasting (i.e. skipping breakfast) can improve cognitive function (and if you're interested in trying intermittent fasting, the 3-Day Reset is a great place to start), but if you’re not eating in the morning and then feeling foggy, I would suggest you actually add something back in first thing. Even if it’s just a couple of crackers and hummus, or yoghurt and berries, nuts and seeds versus a full brekkie (obviously a great choice too!) you’ll probably find those clouds begin to part quite quickly.

Your brain and nervous system need consistency which is why when we experience blood sugar fluctuations we can feel overly emotional, quicker to anger and/or just generally not able to string such a lyrical sentence together as we might do at other times. This is when we aim for 3 good quality meals per day, with solid gaps between which will prevent this from happening. As a result, you’ll avoid feeling like you’re on an emotional merry go round mid-meeting or whatever else you’re up to each day.

I will often challenge clients to shirk stimulants and snacks totally for a week, not because I want them to go hungry or deny themselves things they enjoy, rather to allow them to tune into what true hunger signals are. This is pretty important as if you’re constantly triggering your need to eat/not feeling satisfied it distracts your brain from all the other things it needs to be doing, and a Jack of all trades doesn’t tend to be a master of any one does he…!

In addition to these I think it would be negligent of me not to mention the impact of our increased screen time on our ability to concentrate, in fact decision fatigue and generally feeling mentally ‘blurgh’ is something I have seen exponentially increase in the majority of my clients (and myself), especially over the last 6 months or so. Taking time to spend in nature, preparing a meal from scratch, talking to people in real human form if possible, even sitting in the bath and reading a book, all of these allow the brain & nervous system to wind down and work in a more measured way.

Liken these more analogue activities to going for a nice gentle stroll versus running steeply uphill on a treadmill. The 2nd you can do for a short period without issue, but it’s an intensity we cannot keep up for long. If, however we intermingle video calls, scrolling social media and watching TV with non-tech based activities, AKA option 1, well that’s something we can happily continue with and not feel a negative cognitive drain from.

I don’t know about you but when I’m tired my brain goes to mush, and too much tech stimulation will also disrupt our sleep. To be a little more scientific about it though, 1 night of poor quality or insufficient rest decreases global brain function by 30%, which in turn means we make poorer food choices and thus the whole messy cycle can perpetuate itself quite quickly. So yes, we have a lot to thank technology for in these times but do just make sure you are in charge of its impact on your life as opposed to the other way around.

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At Detox Kitchen we deliver fresh, nourishing meals to your door to help you feel your best. Choose between our Meal Plans for a full-body detox (London-only) or 3-Day Reset (available nationwide), or Fridge Fills to have quick healthy meals on hand.

Words: London based Nutritional Therapist Phoebe Liebling. More information on her clinical services can be found on her website, and her Instagram feed as @_naturalnourishment.