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ACA Counseling Corner Blog

We all face daily challenges in today's complicated and demanding world. ACA’s Counseling Corner Blog offers thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and strategies for helping you to live a happier and healthier life.

Columns can be reprinted in full or in part with attribution to the American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.


Sep 12, 2014

How Does What You Eat Affect How You Feel?

Nutrition is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  Because food struggles have been part of my personal journey it can feel like a loaded topic at times, but I know it is also one full of healing and health and even joy, which is why I want to share it with you.

In my experience, nutrition intersects beautifully with the other Get Happy! topic I lead, mindfulness.  When the gears are working smoothly and life is feeling relatively balanced, consuming mindfully becomes natural and we are in sync with our bodies.  Mindfulness is also a great tool to help us stay in the moment with food rather than focusing on a predetermined outcome such as a "better" body.  At its best, a healthy relationship with food can be pleasurable, natural, joyful, nourishing and nurturing.  Food can be prepared with love, shared with loved ones and a way to show our bodies some love.

So often though, our connection to food loses its natural roots and can become a source of frustration, anger and shame--a far cry from Get Happy! We may use food to try to control our bodies, to reward ourselves or to punish ourselves, all of which can make us feel pretty terrible!

On top of our emotional relationship to food, there are important biochemical reactions happening all over our bodies when we eat.  And we need nutrients from our food to be digested and broken down properly so we can use them for producing feel-good neurotransmitters and generally keeping our body repairing itself and functioning optimally.  

Individual food choices also make a big difference in how we feel energetically throughout the day and whether or not we struggle with cravings or mood swings.  Are we getting a balanced mix or proteins, fats and carbs?  Are we eating enough at the right times?  Are we setting ourselves up to make healthy choices or quick fixes that leave us feeling worse than before? 

If you’re open to making better food choices in order to feel happier, healthier, and generally more awesome. . . then come join us next Monday, 9/15 from 7-8:30pm to learn more about nutrition for mental health. HWCA's signature 6-session holistic wellness program Get Happy! kicked off last night, but we still have 5 exciting weeks of new topics to go!  You can sign up just for nutrition or the remaining 5 weeks at a discounted rate. And as a special incentive to take care of yourself (and build supportive community!), we’re offering an additional  discount for registering with a friend; you’ll each receive 35% off the program.  Click here to register now!
Heather Shannon is a counselor and health coach working in private practice in Chicago.  She works primarily with "Type A" clients and takes a holistic approach to counseling, incorporating nutrition and lifestyle education into her work with teens and adults.
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