Out of the Fog… and Into the Sun!

Last week I was in my favourite place on earth, Chapters, and I came across a book that brought back not-so-pleasant memories of where I was just a few short years ago. It's called "The Brain Fog Fix" and the tag-line says "Reclaim your focus, memory, and joy in just 3 weeks." I am happy to say that my brain is no longer foggy due to some important changes I've made over time, but I was curious to see what Dr. Mike Dow had to say, so I bought it.

Reading through the first part, which focuses on what your brain needs, and what fogs it up, he talks about some of the changes I have made that have really helped me both mentally and physically:

  • limiting processed white flour (I've gone gluten-free)
  • limiting sugar (which I've done and also what sugar I use is organic)
  • limiting inflammatory foods (i.e. processed foods, artificial ingredients, preservatives)
  • buying only organic meats (including eggs), fruit and vegetables, and dairy products
  • eating sprouted, flourless bread (I buy "Ezekiel" bread, found in the freezer of the organic section at my regular grocery store - it's delicious)
  • increasing intake of Omega-3 (salmon is great and should be wild, not farmed; I also take a supplement)
  • choosing foods that are non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)
  • using a filter for tap water (I actual buy reverse-osmosis water and replace the electrolytes and minerals)
  • using cast-iron, stainless steel or ceramic cookware rather than chemical-laden non-stick pans
  • using environmentally-friendly, non-toxic cleaners for everything

He has some other suggestions too, however, that I plan to try.

  • cutting down on "blue light" from excess time with computer, TV and phone screens
  • eating more vegetables, fruit, fish and beans
  • using cinnamon (suggestion: sprinkle it in coffee instead of sugar)
  • using olive oil as much as possible, in cooking and as a natural salad dressing (good quality olive oil + nice vinegar + lemon = yummy!)
  • eating vegetables raw or slightly cooked
  • whole, organic milk is high in Omega-3 (helps with vitamin D consumption)
  • Folate (a B-vitamin) - from spinach, Brussels sprouts, romain, asparagus, broccoli, lentils
  • Vitamin B12 - from organic fish and eggs
  • Vitamin D - from salmon, fruit and vegetables, and the sun!!

Some good news?  Unsweetened coffee or tea is actually good for you! It gets bad when you add all the sugar and non-organic dairy to it, and artificial sweeteners are really bad for you! I buy a delicious fair-trade organic coffee bean at my regular grocery store called "Kicking Horse Coffee", that comes in different flavours (the one I currently have is called "Smart Ass").

"The Brain Fog Fix" then talks about lifestyle readjustments that make your life more joyful and rewarding. I found the book extremely informative and easy to read, as it explains the role of food and the reasons why these things are essential to good brain health. Knowing how certain foods are going to affect me physically makes it easier to "Just Say No" and to make good choices. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes buy the oat fudge bar at Starbucks, but I'm human too! A recommended read for anyone feeling unfocused and looking for a way out of the fog and into the sun.

#cohort21 #wellness #healthy eating

 

7 thoughts on “Out of the Fog… and Into the Sun!

    1. Post author

      Hi Justin,

      I have to say that the biggest thing I did that made a huge difference to me was giving up gluten. I was having so many health issues before, from thyroid to earaches/headaches to head fog. It was very hard to do and took a few years before I was fully off, with some on-again, off-again periods before I finally just realized it wasn't worth it. Like anything else, once I was off of gluten for a while, I stopped missing it.

      The crazy thing is, it's only North American flour I can't eat. There's a French bakery/café near my school and they import all of their baguettes, pastries, etc. from Paris, and I can eat them with no issues at all. The lady who runs the place says that their flour is not processed like ours is here. Maybe I should move to Europe? 🙂 I think anyone would feel much better if they gave up gluten, but most people I mention it to find the whole idea impossible and overwhelming. But it's much easier today, as there are so many nice alternatives.

      Another good side-effect of no gluten: I can go months without exercise, then hop back on the treadmill and run with no problems. My cardio is great, my breath stays even, I'm exercising better than I have in my entire life.

      What kinds of changes have you made to your diet that have made a difference to you?

      All the best,
      Kelly

  1. @kcarlson Funny you should ask. January was oatmeal month for me 🙂 I have been eating cereal for breakfast for 40 years. It was time for a change. My mornings meal is now oatmeal with almond butter, coconut and some fruit. I have WAY more energy during the day and am fuller longer. I am looking forward to reading this book!

  2. Kelly I also find that European foods in general are less difficult for my body to process - I have a number of dietary restrictions in North America that I don't have in Europe. Strange, isn't it? Less additives and preservatives there, for starters. Have you tried reading the labels on flour packages? Very few of them are only "wheat" (organic ones tend to be all wheat, obviously), so you may be reacting to other ingredients as well.

    Black coffee is my standard, but it has to be good coffee!!

    Look forward to chatting again in April about the changes you've made and what effects you see. As a follow-up book I highly recommend "Gut" by Giulia Enders.

  3. Food has so much power and influence on us. I had an experience over March Break where, even on an all-Thai-food diet, it still left me feeling better than my usual, Toronto last-minute melange does. How might we make it easier for teachers to eat healthily? I think I might start with Justin's breakfast recipe.

    Which steps from the book would you recommend as priorities, either because they are the easiest to begin or because they will have the greatest impact?

    1. Post author

      Hi @adamcaplan Thanks so much for this question, it got me thinking. I know what you mean, as I am gluten intolerant here in Canada but can eat foods in/from Europe no problem. First let me say that the changes that will have (and have had, for me) the highest impact are the most difficult ones to do [giving up flour and sugar and limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake]. Other changes are not as hard but are more expensive, though not always as much as you'd think [choosing organic, grass-fed or free-range/roam meat, eggs and dairy]. Some changes require learning new recipes and ways of eating, choosing foods you don't normally eat; this might even feel like a cultural shift [Omega-3 superfoods such as salmon, shrimp, mussels, oysters, black cod, albacore tuna, etc.]. And other changes are fully doable but require organization and perhaps some meal-planning [eating at least 7 vegetables and whole fruit a day - veggies over fruit, berries over other fruit, organic whenever possible, variety is key].

      I didn't do all of this overnight. It's taken me nearly 5 years to make some of the big changes above and get to where I am now. I must say that the reward is a very clear head, increased energy and an ability to pick up exercise without much physical difficulty after not having done it in a long time. I would say that if you could make some of these changes, adding to it over time, you'd start to feel the benefits and then it becomes easier to make further changes. I'll add that when I do "cheat" and eat more sugar/processed food (today is Easter) or drink too much coffee, I feel it immediately, as my head fogs up and my energy levels dip.

      Some quick and easy tips from me:
      - Choose Sprouted grain bread (in freezer section of organic aisle - "Ezekiel")
      - Drink green tea to replace your coffee (or one coffee and then green tea, and coffee should be without sugar)
      - Eat fruit and veggies for snacks instead of packaged food or sweets (bring lots to work so you'll have something to snack on throughout the day)
      - Use brown rice pasta (keep an eye on it and take it off when al-dente, rinse in cold water)
      - Read labels!!! *Avoid GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, foods ending in "ose" (ex. dextrose, fructose), high-fructose corn syrup
      - Some foods I always buy organic: chicken, eggs, milk, apples, peppers

      As a final note, this book ends with a 3-week plan (1: Mood Revolution; 2: Energy Revolution; 3: Spirit Revolution). This includes interesting tips on sleep, exercise, neurogenesis and finding meaning and purpose. It also has lots of tips, with suggested foods with some recipes.

      Let me know how it goes, I'd love to continue this conversation over a cup of tea. 🙂

Comments are closed.