Foods That Help with Everyday Overwhelm

We often put a lot of thought into doing things regularly to boost our immune systems. We know the necessary items that need to be present in our diet and lives to achieve this, and we boost them even more during cold and flu season. There’s another issue we all deal with that can be combated with proactive habits — anxiety and overwhelm. I first want to be clear that I am not speaking of clinical anxiety. If you are struggling beyond basic daily life overwhelm, please consult your doctor.

For the overwhelm that comes with daily life, I like to look to ancient traditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our kidneys are the body’s central source of yin and yang. When our kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, other health problems, including anxiety, arise. The world we live in today takes a significant toll on our kidneys, whether we know it or not. These issues can be small enough to go undiagnosed by physicians but can have a substantial impact on the rest of our bodies.

Factors such as stress, poor sleep quality, environmental toxins, and alcohol can be extremely taxing on the kidneys. Chinese Medicine views the adrenal glands and the kidneys as the same organ. The adrenals are two glands that are located on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for the production and regulation of essential hormones, including those involved in the stress response. When the adrenal glands become overworked, through too much stress, lack of sleep, or those other factors, they are unable to function normally, resulting in adrenal fatigue. This leads to numerous symptoms, including insomnia, sadness, digestive problems, weak immune functioning, and especially anxiety.

Thus, by treating the kidneys through specific foods and restoring the functioning of the adrenal glands, you can help ease some symptoms of overwhelm. To feed your kidneys optimally, you should eat tangerines, plums, grapes, grains such as amaranth, rye, oats, and barley, celery, asparagus, cabbage, and black beans. However, it is beneficial to know whether your kidneys are deficient in the yin or yang and treat them accordingly. The yin is responsible for cooling and hydrating the body. If they are yin deficient, you might experience symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, dry skin, eyes, and mouth, and brittle hair. Chlorella is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the kidneys’ yin.

Spirulina, another type of algae, also works great. It would be best if you also were eating carrots, grapefruit, celery, cucumber, blueberries, soybeans, kidney beans, and watermelon. These are considered ‘cold’ foods that will help increase your yin.

Yang, on the other hand, is responsible for stimulating and warming up your body. If your kidneys are deficient in yang, you might experience diarrhea, lower back pain, fatigue, and feeling cold. Generally, symptoms are worse in the morning. If this is your case, eat “warming” foods such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, walnuts, quinoa, and black beans. Avoid any iced drinks and raw foods and try to limit your fruit intake as these are all considered ‘cooling’ foods that will only worsen your yin-yang imbalance.

Aside from foods to help stimulate healthy kidney function, meditation apps have helped me tremendously with combating daily overwhelm.  Apps such as Headspace or Calm can help you fit meditation into your schedule in just a few minutes per day, and this time to clear your mind can transform your entire day.

What are your favorite mind-clearing practices that help you stay calm?

Comment and let me know, I’d love to hear how you handle this.

Learning to listen to your body and be present with your feelings and emotions takes time and reaps bountiful rewards.

For example, most people feel anxiety as tension in their chest or their stomach. We can easily move through our day holding our breath, experiencing this feeling without giving it much thought. Next time you notice yourself feeling anxious, do a mental body scan and see where the feeling has gathered inside of your body. Does your chest feel tight? Do you feel knots in your stomach? Something else, perhaps?

Once you nail down where this feeling of tension rises in your body, you’ll be better equipped to notice and combat it promptly. Sometimes, you may not even notice you are anxious until you realize the tension.  This is the perfect time to check in with yourself. Do a quick scan and ask yourself what’s weighing on you, what’s causing you anxiety, or what’s bothering you.

Have you ever tried to make your own pickles at home? It’s quite easy, and a fun experiment to see what different flavors you can add to them to spice them up a bit.

A great simple recipe to try as a base:

1 Pint-sized mason jar with lid

Pickling cucumbers

Fresh dill sprigs

3 Garlic cloves, sliced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

8 cups of water

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup Himalayan salt granules

1 teaspoon pickling spices

 

Slice your cucumbers into spears and set aside with dill and garlic.

Combine all other ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Stir until all salt and sugar have dissolved.

Place your cucumbers in your jar with dill and garlic. Pour mixture into the jar and refrigerate for 24-48 hours before eating.

What’s your favorite Trader Joes item!?

One of my favorite threads to run across online is a list of everyone’s favorite item at Trader Joes.  There are so many fantastic items to choose from, and I’ve almost always found a new recipe staple when perusing these lists.

So, tell me. What’s your favorite item(s) from Trader Joes?

Things You Can Make in the Instant Pot

That You May Not Know About

If your instant pot only gets taken out of the cupboard when it’s time to make a big batch of rice, soup, or beans, it’s time to dust it off and use it! There are so many different ways to use an instant pot that you may have never thought about. An instant pot is a multi-purpose pressure cooker that will save you so much time and hassle compared to the conventional way of cooking your meals. It can also replace so many home appliances, which saves you money and space in your kitchen.

Rice

One of the most common uses of an instant pot is its function as a rice cooker. There’s no need for a rice cooker— which serves only one purpose— when you have an all-in-one instant pot. Best of all, in an instant pot, you can throw in all of the remaining ingredients for your meal with the rice and cook it all at the same time!

 Steel-Cut Oats

Your instant pot can cook your breakfast oats without any needed supervision and can keep it warm until you’re ready to eat! Making oatmeal in the instant pot makes it extra creamy and tasty, and there’s no need to keep an eye on it while it cooks. Usually, oatmeal in the microwave or stovetop boils over and can be extremely annoying to cook, especially in those mornings when you’re rushing and need to multitask. You won’t have this problem with an instant pot.

All Kinds of Soups

The best part about an instant pot is that it’s extremely hands-off. All you need to do is throw your ingredients into the pot and wait a few minutes until it’s ready to eat! No stirring, no adjusting the temperature. Your soup will be done within minutes with minimal clean-up and no need to watch over it every few seconds.

Popcorn

No more buying those salty, oily, pre-packaged popcorns from the store. Buy kernels and make your own popcorn for the perfect healthy snack. It uses way less oil, and the best part is that you can add whatever flavors you like, from sweet and salty to even adding some colorful M&Ms!

Yogurt

One of the more interesting things you can use your instant pot for is making your very own yogurt. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually extremely easy and a much cheaper, healthier, and tastier option than buying your yogurt from the store. All you need is milk and a yogurt starter. For you vegans, you can use coconut milk to make your yogurt dairy-free.

Hard-Boiled Eggs 

Making hard-boiled eggs in the instant pot is a lifesaver for meal prepping. You can cook an entire carton of eggs within minutes and place them in the fridge for easy access throughout the week.

What are your favorite recipes for the instant pot? Please leave a link below so we can all get some great recipe ideas from each other.

Salt often gets a bad wrap, but it’s actually an essential part of your diet that’s necessary for optimal health. Finding the balance between enough and too much is important — it’s suggested to consume about 1 tsp of salt per day.

We tend to eat way more than that, though. Salt is hiding in places we don’t expect, and there are foods you may not realize are high in sodium such as:

  • salad dressings
  • soups
  • broths/stocks
  • canned foods
  • frozen foods
  • cold cuts

One thing all of these have in common is they are pre-packaged foods. A simple way to cut out excess salt is to eat as many whole foods as possible. You can even try making these items at home, such as salad dressings and making your own stocks. These are easier to make than you might think!