Foods That Help Boost Mental Health

| 1 min read



About the Show
On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Together, they discuss how we can boost our mental health through food.
“…The way we fuel our body and the way our body is impacted by what we eat can definitely affect different chemicals and hormones in the body and how we feel on a daily basis. And I think there’s lots of levels to that.” – Grace Derocha
In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:
  • Taking notice of how food makes us feel when we eat
  • Probiotics and prebiotics
  • The link between gut health and mental health
  • How food can impact serotonin production
  • Foods that positively impact our mood
  • Importance of vitamin D and zinc
  • Alcohol, processed foods and caffeine’s effect on the body

Listen on

Chuck Gaidica: This is a Healthier Michigan Podcast, episode 54. Coming up we discuss foods that can have a positive impact on our mental health.
Chuck Gaidica: Welcome to a Healthier Michigan Podcast. This is a podcast dedicated to navigating how we could all improve our health and well-being through small, healthy habits we can start implementing right now. I’m your host, Chuck Gaidica. Every other week we’re going to sit down, and we have for a long time, with certified health experts from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and do a deep dive into topics that cover nutrition, fitness, and a lot more.
Chuck Gaidica: And on this episode, we’re talking about what foods we can add to our diet, or maybe continue eating. Maybe you’re doing a great job. These foods that can help boost our mental health. With me today, Registered Dietitian for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Grace Derocha. She’s also a Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Health Coach, mom, wife, mommy of two, so she’s been doing a lot of stuff at home with kids. And so when we’re talking about mental health, we’re talking about keeping it together not because we’re just by ourselves, but we’ve got now kids around us, others, maybe seniors in our life we have to take care of. Right, Grace?
Grace Derocha: Yes. And I think all the mommies and daddies needed the most benefits from some healthy eating and some good mental health during this time. It’s tricky.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, it’s tricky and I think for the first time, maybe in a long time, I’ve seen people having more fun and I’m not sure this is great. I mean, I think it’s good that we’re kind of relaxed about binge eating and, “Oh wait till we’re coming out of the coronavirus thing right across most of the States now. Wait till they see me get rolled out of the house after all that I’ve been eating.” And I think it’s interesting that people are joking about it. So that in a fun, interesting way, that takes the edge off of what you’ve been doing. Right?
Grace Derocha: Right.
Chuck Gaidica: But at the same time, I don’t know that I’ve seen that much fun being had at maybe my own expense or someone else’s by saying, “Hey, I’m bragging. I’ve been eating way too much, too many cookies.” I’m not sure if that’s really good either.
Grace Derocha: It’s weird. It’s a very tricky thing because depending on the person, allowing yourselves to joke around about it may be a sense of stress relief and give us that mental health break of overthinking about what I’m eating, exercising and being overly productive. And I feel like I waver too between that. I see these memes and all these things that are like, “If you aren’t getting stuff done now, then you’re lazy.” Pretty much. Or, “I’m going to come out of this looking like …” you’ve seen the Barbie doll and she’s like the skinny Barbie doll. And then they have one that looks like she’s gained weight. I think there’s a happy medium and balance. But I also think that we have to in the long run, build the best relationship with our body that we can and the best relationship with food.
Grace Derocha: Just the weight and the number on the scale and how you aesthetically look isn’t the end all be all, and isn’t the end be all for your body and your health or your mental health. So really thinking about that a little bit more too.
Chuck Gaidica: How does food affect mental health and the phrase mental health is really far and wide. We could just be talking about through the period we’ve just come that you’ve gotten into some blue or down days. That may be one thing, but then there’s also diagnosable mental health issues, which this could have led to or exacerbated, right?
Grace Derocha: Right.
Chuck Gaidica: So there are differences, but what does food have to do with our mental health?
Grace Derocha: So it’s funny because the way we fuel our body and the way our body is impacted by what we eat can definitely affect different chemicals and hormones in the body and how we feel on a daily basis. And I think there’s lots of levels to that. So like you mentioned, about 25% of the US population of adults has some diagnosable mental health disorder, but we also know from research that mood disorders and mental health disorders, not necessarily diagnosable impact many people, and can impact you and how you feel on a daily basis.
Grace Derocha: So I always say this, and I say it as a joke, but I mean it sincerely, I’m a pretty happy person and I eat healthy. And if you think about just people in your life and you know those people. There’s people that have fast food for three meals a day, or people that don’t make a remote conscious effort to eat healthier and I’m not judging, but I want people to think about how do you feel maybe when you’re eating more nutritious food and then how do you feel when you don’t?
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, well, you know that’s interesting and those stats that you give us, the one in four US adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, that’s a stat that deals directly with those individuals diagnoses. That doesn’t really take into account I live with somebody who’s got depression and anxiety, or I’m a caretaker for mom who now I haven’t been able to see for a while. So now I’ve gotten down about that. In other words, this circle broadens out greatly and can influence what we’re eating, how we’re eating, and how we’re treating our bodies way beyond our own diagnosed issues.
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: And we may not even have one.
Grace Derocha: Right. Definitely. And I think the stress of this time and in different moments of your life can play an impact on how you’re feeling mentally and your mental well-being.
Chuck Gaidica: Now you said something interesting about eating foods. So you’re talking about getting in tune with your body, right? Like when you eat, are you paying attention to how you feel?
Grace Derocha: Yes. So this is key in this process is kind of tuning in and being a little bit more conscious, like do you feel foggy or tired or a little bit more lethargic from eating something or do you feel energetic and happy and kind of enabled and powerful, like with a clear mind, or is the overthinking about food also impacting you or … there’s lots of or’s here. Maybe something that you eat doesn’t sit well with you and hurts your stomach. So having that pain and dealing with that can also affect your mental health.
Chuck Gaidica: But here’s a complication or Oreos, if you eat something like cookies or chocolate and it does release … sometimes eating chocolate releases certain hormones too, right, I’ve learned.
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: It makes you feel better. You can be eating stuff that’s not necessarily great for you, if it’s not in moderation, and you can still get a buzz from it, or you can get … caffeine does something to you. Whatever it is, you can still get a feeling that actually temporarily makes you feel good, and it still doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Grace Derocha: Right. And I would say also think, speaking of Oreos, not beating yourself up because you wanted to have a couple of Oreos. Maybe just do me a favor and don’t eat the whole pack. But being able to have the awareness and the understanding of how you’re … one “treat food” isn’t going to ruin your health and your diet forever, or enjoying the Mac and cheese as a comfort food because it was a tough day and you’re just going to make that for the kids. So you’re going to eat it too hashtag Grace the other day. And that’s also okay. I do sneak vegetables into it. So I guess there was that.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, but now when you talk about how we feel, and I know you want to talk a little bit about like things like serotonin, et cetera, but eating, having sugar, I’ve learned so much from you over so many episodes. But let’s zero in on some of these things. How some of these things play what role in your body and regulate how you feel, how you behave, et cetera. Do you want to start with kind of the hormone idea or …
Grace Derocha: Yeah. So I’m going to start with, I’m glad you brought up, sugar. So there is something to be said about … I feel like I sound fickle and all over the place, but there’s something to be said about knowing that you can enjoy something in moderation and allow yourself to fully enjoy that versus tricking yourself into saying, “Well, I’m going to eat as many Oreos as I want, because I want to, and it makes me feel good right now, and I don’t care about later.” So finding that happy medium and that balance there, and having a little bit of understanding about what could be going on in your body, like all that added sugar at one time spikes the blood sugar and then actually drops it. So then you’re actually going to be in a worst mood later.
Chuck Gaidica: Or tired, going to bed, and the kids are still running around going, “Hey, come on, time for school again.” And you’re like, “Oh I’ve got to sleep.”
Grace Derocha: I don’t want to teach fractions today.
Chuck Gaidica: Not for the third time.
Grace Derocha: So yeah, definitely being aware of that. So one of the most important things that you’ve brought up is serotonin. It is a hormone that we produce and that we make. And you’ve probably heard about it before, but it’s a happy hormone. It makes us feel happy. It gives us kind of that happy feeling, that positive outlook that we’re looking for. And there’s a lot of things that serotonin does. It can help us with sleep, not only help us go to sleep because it helps with the production of melatonin, which is another hormone, it’s a sleep hormone, but it also helps us have deeper sleep. It helps with memory. It helps with appetite and digestion. And this is a fun fact, and I know we’ll talk about probiotic foods later, but 90% of the serotonin we produce in our body stems from our gut health. A lot of people don’t know that.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, we hear a lot about gut health and I do want to get into that, but this notion of serotonin and either other hormones that are, I guess, are they’re secreted in our bodies. There’s one thing that we have just come out … we’re coming out of this period that we’ve not been able to do with a lot of people around us. And that is we’ve not been able to touch. And I know that even something as simple as a hug, whether it’s a man hug, whether it’s hugging your mom, right. Or God forbid somebody was in the hospital, you couldn’t even go to their bedside. That is missing for a long period of time.
Chuck Gaidica: So what’s interesting is this is intertwined our mental health with then what we could eat. So if you’re telling me that there are certain things I can do to kick up that serotonin by eating in a special or different way, or just doing it right, to me that’s like a prescription. It’s like you’re writing me the happy hormone you need and here’s what to do. And I’m like, “Hey, okay.” And it’s kind of free if I do it the right way, which is wonderful.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. So, there’s research that shows that hugging and touching is an important part of our mental health and our happiness. I have my family here with me now, but I missed hugging my mom, and I want to make sure there is ways that we have a little bit of control of that with including these healthier foods that can help make our mood a little bit better and increase our mental health and just help.
Chuck Gaidica: So you mentioned bacteria. That sounds strange in this world we’re coming out of like, “Oh yeah, I want good bacteria,” because we’ve heard about all kinds of other issues with the virus, but good bacteria can help our guts. And so what is the logical extension there? So what gives us good bacteria? And then how does that influence our body?
Grace Derocha: So a probiotic is good bacteria, and we often talk about probiotics in our gut or our stomach or GI system, the gastrointestinal system. So meaning our stomach and intestines, and keeping that good gut bacteria, those probiotics living and thriving is definitely a help. Since one, it produces most of the serotonin in the body, but two there is, they call it the gut-brain access where our stomach and our brain are actually fully connected. There’s literally one thing. There’s the access from the brain to the gut with neurotransmitters that are produced that really can help affect our brain and how we look at things. That is the science of it all.
Grace Derocha: So probiotic foods become extra important all the time, but especially right now to include in our diet every day. So a probiotic food is … a few examples would be yogurt, kefir, which is a yogurt drink, kombucha, which is really popular right now. It’s a fermented tea.
Chuck Gaidica: Okay. You kind of have that one.
Grace Derocha: You don’t like that?
Chuck Gaidica: No, not really.
Grace Derocha: It’s a little vinegary. I grew up drinking it of course because my mom and being Filipino. So definitely some of those, but then, okay here’s more common ones. Sauerkraut. How do you feel about sauerkraut?
Chuck Gaidica: If it’s on a Reuben, you had me at hello. Outside of that I don’t know that I would go out of my way. I know it’s good for you, and I think growing up, we had it a lot, with some kind of sausage or like the old German kind of idea of stuff, but I don’t know that I can think of things. I don’t think I’d go for sauerkraut right now, but that’s a good idea. It’s cheap.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, or pickles?
Chuck Gaidica: Oh yeah, pickles are good.
Grace Derocha: Anything pickled like any vegetables that are pickled or “fermented” in that way, any kind of pickled vegetables. We just had some pickled green beans other day. They were delicious. What else? Kimchi, which is also pickled, but like with some Asian spices. So those are kind of the main things that are probiotic. Here’s the side tip though, is that prebiotic foods, which are kind of … I always say probiotics are like these beautiful flowers that are growing in our guts and to feed those, you need prebiotic foods that are the fertilizer and the sunshine of these flowers so they can grow. So that’s my little analogy for you, but things like apples and oatmeal, things with a lot of fiber that can feed that probiotic. Dark chocolate falls into that category of prebiotics. So just thinking about those things that can help feed the probiotics and then also trying to get some probiotics in.
Chuck Gaidica: But you know this makes so much sense because I’ve learned from you over time we need to think about how we eat and how that affects our heart health. So on the way from the gut to the brain, there’s a little stop in the middle there that’s kind of important and that’s your heart. But if you’re eating for your heart health and your gut health, that’s obviously going to influence your brain health, which equal sign mental health, perhaps. So I think what’s interesting here is so much of this again, is common sense do right by yourself. And you’re helping all the systems of your body, whether they’re complex or whether they’re basic.
Chuck Gaidica: And so much of this is just easy to do, short of the sauerkraut idea. But I mean, everything is pretty much what you’re telling me to do, I do a lot of it, but it’s striking like, “Oh man, we haven’t had pickles for a while.” I like a little quarter size pickle slice with a sandwich. It’s not going to knock my sodium out of the park for the day. It is high, but it’s just a slice of a pickle, but I didn’t really think that that is something that could be really good for my gut.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. Finding some balance with some of these things. Yeah, absolutely. And people have asked me often about, especially with probiotics, can I take a supplement? Sure. Yeah, you can. I would always rather have you have it from food whenever you can, because a supplement is supplementing the diet, but if you are looking for one, just any supplement that you take, make sure that you’re looking for that it’s verified by a third party, meaning so that we know what they say is in it is actually in it.
Chuck Gaidica: All right. That’s good stuff. But there are other things that we can do to incorporate in our diets that will also have an impact on our mental health relative to food. So give me some of those things that we should be thinking about as well.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. So I’m going to give you the pros first, the things that we want to be sure that we add in obviously. So any diet that’s rich with antioxidants, antioxidants kill free radicals from aging to cancers, to things that we don’t want in our body. And that really is looking at colorful foods. Eat the rainbow, ROY G BIV, the fruits and vegetables into your life on a daily basis. That’s pretty simple.
Chuck Gaidica: So dark berries, even if they’re frozen, right.
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: I make my hot oatmeal and to cool it off, I just add a half cup, three quarters of a cup of frozen berries while I’m getting antioxidants, because I mean, the color is crazy deep. So I kind of know, not only do I like it and it tastes good, but there is some wonderful goodness locked up in there somewhere.
Grace Derocha: And I love that example because there’s easy ways that you can do that. That’s a perfect example of that. Complex carbohydrates. So when I say complex, I really mean those fiber rich carbs and avoiding some of those more simple ones that have added sugars. So having your oatmeal. See, I’m just stealing all your examples today, Chuck.
Chuck Gaidica: Man, I’m going to get a star, hang on.
Grace Derocha: Gold star on the forehead for sure. No, but definitely oatmeal, your brown rice, your brown pasta, whole wheat pastas, black rice, quinoa, whole wheat breads, all of those delicious things.
Chuck Gaidica: Stuff with flax in it. I mean, you’ve got a lot of complex carbs and seeds and yeah.
Grace Derocha: And see you keep segueing me into what I want to talk about.
Chuck Gaidica: I didn’t even know.
Grace Derocha: So flax seed is one of the best seeds with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for the heart, but studies have found that they help people with depression and in America, our Omega-3 fatty acid intake and ratio compared to Omega-6 fatty acids is way low. So if there’s ways that we can kick that up with things like flax seed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or even better is the fatty fishes is a great way to get Omega-3s in. Your salmon, your halibut, your mackerel, really any fish that is carrying fat has that Omega-3 fatty acid that we in America are kind of deficient in. And we know that people with depression oftentimes have pretty big Omega-3 deficiencies.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. That’s interesting. And you’ve said that before, and I’m glad you said it again because those are some really simple ways to attack that, which is good.
Grace Derocha: What else? Well we talked about serotonin being produced in the gut with the probiotics, but protein also is kind of in that formula, is a helper and lover of creating that serotonin for us. So protein rich foods, anything from vegan and vegetarian options, like your beans and legumes and nuts, then also eggs, meat, fish, chicken, poultry, tofu, I forgot to mention earlier. So anything that’s rich in protein and making sure you’re getting enough protein, which most people-ish are, but just keeping that in mind to help round that out and balance it. One of my favorite ones to bring up is vitamin D. In Michigan, we have a higher vitamin D deficiency than other states. So on average, about 10% of Americans are lacking in some vitamin D and in Michigan, it’s 40% because we don’t have as much sunshine, I think.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, and that can be a direct correlation to mood disorders too. Right? Like sad and those kinds of things.
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: Because the sun is gone. So you think it’s just the visible nature of the clouds rolling in November in Michigan, and they don’t leave till Mother’s Day. I’m making it up. We get the sun, but we’re not necessarily, because of the cold air, going out and rolling up our pant legs above the boots and taking our coats off and sitting on a park bench. It’s just not practical.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s a little chilly. So I mentioned fatty fishes. They not only have Omega-3 fatty acids, but also vitamin D. Liver, I don’t know if people are eating liver very often. Cheese has some vitamin D. Egg yolks carry the vitamin D, and then there’s many foods that are fortified with vitamin D. Some dairy products, some cereals. So there’s a few options there.
Chuck Gaidica: Where do you stand on supplements while we’re actually hitting on vitamin D? Because I think that’s maybe the only vitamin short of a multi vitamin, once a day, that I’ve really taken over typically gearing it up in the winter time, just because of what we just mentioned. Are you okay with supplements? You think that they really can help us, especially if they’re individual like a vitamin D or something you’re targeting?
Grace Derocha: Yeah, I think they can, for sure. There’s a couple of things I would say. I would say obviously ideally to get it from food or the sun, and when you are taking a supplement of vitamin D, take vitamin D3. D3 is the kind that is most like the kind that we naturally make from the sun. And that’s kind of the most efficient way to get it. So vitamin D3, not D2, and then the same thing. Check to see if there’s a third party verification label on there. Usually it’s like NSP or USP. They’re companies that test these products to say what’s in it is actually in it. So yeah D3, not D2.
Chuck Gaidica: So then there are a couple other things that we can tend to run low on and zinc is one of those, right?
Grace Derocha: Yes. I love zinc. So zinc is actually good for immune boosting our health naturally, but also it’s interesting because you don’t need much of zinc, but if you get it in, we know that people with lower levels of zinc in their body oftentimes are more likely to have some kind of clinical depression. Yeah, I know. Zinc includes a lot of different healthy foods. We would like, again, there’s some in fish, which I love people to have. You can also find it in eggs. You can find it in shellfish and then a variety of fruits and vegetables. And again, because we don’t need that many, if you are trying to get that rainbow in a day, it can definitely help with your zinc intake as well.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, and before we got into coronavirus, zinc was being put in with vitamin C in the lozenges and stuff to boost your immune system I take it for the common cold, right? And even for flu season, but there has been some interesting stuff that’s correlated the increased use of zinc and treating people with the virus. And so it’ll be curious to see coming out of that, if boosting the immune system really was related in a way to a little bit of zinc, whatever that cocktail is that I’m sure we’ll find studies that you and I will be talking about down the road of why it’s important that zinc is included in our diets.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. Most definitely.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. So then depression, anxiety still influenced by other things that we may be missing that are fancy words like, is it selenium or selenium?
Grace Derocha: Yep. Selenium. Selenium is a mineral that again, it’s one of those things that you probably are getting if you’re eating a well balanced diet. Beans, legumes have them. Nuts, seeds, seafood, whole grains. But what happens is we get into trouble when we kind of go down a path of maybe having an off week where we’re not getting it. And 55 micrograms each day is not very much. And that’s kind of the recommendation for what adults should have of selenium a day. But we do know that selenium can piggyback off of building some of those happy hormones in the body.
Chuck Gaidica: So I do have a question and it’s something that’s a little off kilter, but we’re coming through the season where the last stat I saw was that wine sales in America went up 55%. They may have gone up even beyond that, right, in this time of where everybody was kind of hunkered down. Drinking the typical four ounces of red wine once, twice a week, it’s always been, “Oh, it’s kind of good for heart health,” but what does that do, not so much the increase, like you’re going off the charts and drinking too much. We know that’s bad for you. But when it comes to heart health, gut health, everything is it’s really just thinking of that word that you like to use so much, which is so great, moderation, or is it killing the good stuff I guess is my real basic question. If we’re drinking too much wine, are we hurting ourselves?
Grace Derocha: Yes. I’m going to just keep saying yes.
Chuck Gaidica: I know I’m throwing you a zinger here.
Grace Derocha: No, no, this is a great question, no.
Chuck Gaidica: I just see the stats that I’m like, “Oh my gosh, we’re drinking it out of a hose.”
Grace Derocha: Yeah. So here’s the thing with alcohol. The key is moderation and moderation is defined as one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men. If you’re keeping within that, then it would not impact your mental health in a negative way, as much as if you were going past that. And here’s the thing. Again, there’s lots of layers. So if you’re feeling dependent on the alcohol to feel a certain way, that’s an issue. Alcohol also has the tendency to spike blood sugar and then drop it low. Obviously we know what alcohol can do to the brain as far as getting a buzz or of how you’re feeling. But alcohol does have the potential, if over consumed, to kill some of those probiotics that I was giving the rah-rah speech about earlier. And we don’t want to do that.
Chuck Gaidica: So is it the alcohol that kills the probiotics? Because I mean, if you cut through right through it, it’s grape juice, right. It’s just happens to be fermented. So like you told me I should have a pickle. I’m thinking, “Oh, well maybe it’s good that I have fermented grape juice,” but grape juice is also empty carbs, you know? So it’s a very complex thing.
Grace Derocha: It’s so funny. Someone asked me this other day and they said, “You keep telling me they have fermented tea like kombucha or sauerkraut or things that are pickled and fermented, but then when I ask you if I can have my wine, you say, ‘Yes, you can, but.'” It’s made in a different way, and the way it’s produced is different than the probiotic rich foods that I was talking about earlier.
Chuck Gaidica: So moderation is the good word then?
Grace Derocha: It really is. It’s the key. Yeah. You can have your glass with dinner and enjoy that, but just maybe not the whole bottle every night.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. Yeah. I got you. I got you. Well, you’re kind of delving into similar topics, but the idea that alcohol is on a list of foods that can negatively impact your mental health if you’re not careful, right, if you’re not doing it-
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: What are some of the other ones that we have to be careful about? And I think you’ve touched on some.
Grace Derocha: yeah, highly processed foods. And I know you and I talked about processing and processed foods before, but anything that is highly processed that has extra additives and preservatives and chemicals in it, think about that. They’re preservatives and chemicals and things that they’re adding to food that aren’t actually food to help the food last longer or taste a certain way or make you think it tastes a certain way that obviously is not really good for our gut health and then not very good for our mental health. Same thing with trans fats. We know already that trans fats are not good for us because they are cancer causing. But then taking that further down the line to note that if they’re going to do that, there’s no way that it’s good for our brain and how we’re feeling.
Grace Derocha: We did touch on foods high in added sugar, refined foods. Having a balance. We talked about balance with alcohol, but having a balance with caffeine as well. Making sure not only is it bad for your blood pressure, but making sure that we’re not overdoing it, because then again, we get into ebb and flow of spikes and oftentimes the bad caffeinated foods, especially not so much your tea or coffee, which come from plants, but any kind of pop that has caffeine.
Chuck Gaidica: Energy drinks.
Grace Derocha: Energy drinks, yep. Those just kind of eat away at your gut.
Chuck Gaidica: And then where do you stand on intermittent fasting, which I know a lot of people-
Grace Derocha: I knew you were going to ask me that.
Chuck Gaidica: It’s kind of a range. We could probably do a whole segment on that, but what’s the equal sign or not to mental health?
Grace Derocha: So the equal sign here for intermittent fasting is being very smart about who you are and what you can and cannot handle. This kind of falls more into not only that spike of eating and then a drop, but then also the mental health capacity of say, I can’t eat till I can’t eat till, or I have to stop eating at blah time. I have to stop eating at 7:00. I have to stop eating at 7:00. I have to stop eating at 7:00. And then how you’re feeling in that time when you can eat. What I’m seeing a lot from some patients of mine is that then they tend to overeat in a smaller time frame. And then again, their relationship with food, their relationship with their body is not in a good place.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, again, some people know their bodies a whole lot better. They know what switches to flip and not to flip. If you’re feeling foggy because you’re intermittently fasting, well, that may not be a great thing. But for some, I’ve heard the opposite that man, I’m just great. I stop eating at 7:00, 8:00 at night. I don’t eat until noon the next day and I’m okay. But I think for many of us, for me, let me just say that, if I could stop snacking after 8:00 at night, which most nights I’m pretty good I don’t, and I don’t really have breakfast until 8:00 the next morning, that’s still a 12 hour fast when you look at it. So if you could at least do that, you’re getting some of those benefits, whatever they may be.
Grace Derocha: Yes. And that’s the thing is we all fast. We’re not necessarily intermittent fasting, but we are all fasting as we sleep and go into the night. That is a real thing. And there are benefits too. That’s why we have that rest time, that rest time for our body, that time when we’re sleeping, because it does help regenerate new brain cells. And sometimes people that are doing that and getting in tune with what that looks like for their body, maybe they needed some kind of structure to begin with. So then they would be able to live without those time restraints per se, but because they had no restraints at all.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, the no restraint at all can be, I mean, all you have to do is turn on the TV news late at night and you could stand there and eat a whole box of cookies at midnight. And there goes the idea. Forget the fast. I mean, it’s just the way life is. So again, understanding your body, moderation, all makes sense, but give us a tip or two takeaways here as we wrap this up, what we should be thinking about when it comes to eating and our mental health.
Grace Derocha: So I would say this. For your mental health and your relationship with food and your body, don’t be so hard on yourself. Enjoy your comfort foods. Enjoy the things that you like in moderation, but then also do your best to allow food to nourish you. Nourish your body, nourish your brain, nourish your spirit, allow your taste buds to have time to enjoy foods that they might not have liked before. And then remember that it’s not one bad treat food that will ruin your entire health and your entire body. So, keeping all of that in perspective, be kind yourself and just aim to do better with every meal or snack that you’re putting into your body. Say thank you. I always say putting good food into your body is a way to say thank you, body, for everything that you’ve given me. Thank you for allowing me to be able to walk and move and think and get through things on a daily basis.
Chuck Gaidica: And it’s really good to think about it in that sense that I think much like New Year’s resolutions and here we’re coming out kind of halfway through the year, almost into I’m not even sure it’s normal. But it seems to me that when we put the S after resolutions, that’s when we don’t seem to be able to keep them. So maybe if you have overindulged a little bit with the cookies, because of the times we’ve been in, that just having one resolution now as the weather breaks and we’re getting into nicer air, we’re able to get outside. Maybe that’s a good way to go about it. And as you put it, do better the next meal. Don’t try to make this a resolution filled year with 20 things you’ve got to accomplish by August.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. I totally agree. Taking it one day at a time, one meal at a time, one moment at a time is always the best way to tackle things so it doesn’t seem too overwhelming.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, lots of great stuff here, and I don’t want to be in a fog. And I think you’ve brought me right through mine. Again, now let me just say, Grace, except for the sauerkraut idea, I’ll try to figure out how to use that one. All right?
Grace Derocha: Sauerkraut on a salad. Sometimes I use it instead of dressing. It’s pretty good.
Chuck Gaidica: Oh, interesting. Oh, okay. All right. Let me think about that for a week or so. Good to talk to you. Thank you, Grace. Be safe and be well.
Grace Derocha: Thank you so much for having me. Always a pleasure.
Chuck Gaidica: Grace Derocha, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and a Certified Health Coach, coaching us all along today. We want to thank you for listening to a Healthier Michigan Podcast. It’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you like our show, and you want to know more, check us out at You can get previous episodes. You can also leave us reviews or ratings on Apple Podcast or Stitcher, and you can get all the new episodes on your smartphone or tablet. Take it with you as you’re going for your power walks now. Be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. I’m Chuck Gaidica. Take good care.

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