Are you tired of feeling sluggish and foggy every day? Do you find yourself reaching for the chocolate after a long, stressful day? If so, you might find your mood and emotional regulation both could benefit from adopting a JERF (just eat real food) lifestyle.
When you prioritise real, whole foods and ditch the added sugars that are wreaking havoc on your mental health, you’ll find your hormones become more harmonised, your mood becomes stabilised and your resilience improves too. We’ll be exploring your just eating real food can improve your whole body, plus we’ll be sharing some tips on how to quit added sugar.
What is JERF?
First let’s unpack what it actually means to just eat real food – JERF is a simple philosophy around encouraging people to seek out foods that are minimally processed and as close to their real form as possible. For instance, instead of eating corn chips, eat corn, and instead of eating white rice, eat brown rice. The least amount of refining, the better. This means you won’t be exposed to preservatives, added sugar or miss out on those essential nutrients you’ll find in whole foods. For instance, brown rice by far outweighs its white counterpart for B vitamins, iron and vitamin E. By just eating real, whole foods, you can fuel your body and mind with the nutrients they need to function at their best – reducing your risk for mental health issues and optimising brain function. Unlike inflammatory added sugars and hydrogenated vegetable oils, real food promotes a diverse gut microbiome, an essential element of a healthy mind.
Adopting a JERF lifestyle can have a powerful impact on your mental health. Here’s how.
Processed foods and added sugars can cause inflammation in the body, which has been linked to a range of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety – not to mention that it raises our risk for obesity and heart disease. Eating real, whole foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, can help reduce inflammation and improve your mental health, while ingredients you’ll find in processed products – think hydrogenated vegetable oils, added sugar, colours and preservatives all do a number of our gut. They reduce the absorption of nutrients and help bad bacteria flourish in our gut. The result? Low mood and an increased risk for mental health disorders.
Real, whole foods are packed with important nutrients that your body and brain need to function at their best. Foods that are rich in B vitamins, such as leafy greens and whole grains, can help improve mood and brain function, while foods that are rich in magnesium, like nuts and seeds, can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Fibre is another nutrient found in higher concentration in whole foods – and this not only helps slow the absorption of sugar, it also helps us regulate our bowel movements, along with preventing constipation and bloating. Highly-processed foods tend to lack this nutrient, which is why so many people are blocked up after eating a typical western diet of white bread, sugary cereals and fast food. Whole foods are the key to maximising your fibre intake and taking advantage of the many benefits this nutrient provides, including blood sugar regulation, hormone harmonising and hunger regulation – all of these contribute to stable mood and improved mental health. Plus, studies show fibre reduces hunger frequency – this means we’ll be less likely to binge on inflammatory foods. But only 5% of us are getting enough fibre, so it’s no surprise so many of us are struggling with digestive troubles and dysregulated moods. 19 to 38 grams of fibre per day is the daily intake recommendation, so add a good amount of whole grains, legumes, fruit and veggies, nuts and seeds to keep your gut – and brain – healthy.
Improves gut health
Just eating real food is one of the easiest ways to improve gut health – many of those whole foods, like veggies, fruit and whole grains, also function as prebiotics, and this means that the healthy gut bacteria flourish and grow one these foods, while the bad bacteria don’t have quite as fruitful an experience. Why does this matter? The gut is also known as our “second brain”, and this is because our gut relies on those same neurotransmitters as our noggin, creating a link between these two parts of the body. You may not have known that issues with your gut can cause issues with our mental health, with studies showing an unbalanced gut microbiome spikes our risk for mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression. An inadequate diet is often to blame, as we need a range of foods, from healthy fats to probiotics and antioxidants, to ward of inflammation and keep our hormones in check. Diets high in sugar can lead to changes to the gut bacteria, with research finding it can lower microbial diversity, which puts us at risk for infection. Studies have found it causes higher levels of Proteobacteria, and this is an indicator of an unbalanced microbiome, known as dysbiosis. This then skyrockets our risk for a host of conditions, from autoimmune conditions to metabolic diseases and, of course, mental health illnesses. That’s why JERF could be your key to turning things back in your favour – and it doesn’t have to be boring. You can enjoy delicious meals like these Healthy Chocolate Pancakes, and you won’t believe this Bloody Good Cheesecake is added-sugar free and loaded with gut-boosting nutrients. And trust us – it is bloody good. Keen for more? Our No Sugar Baking Cookbook has everything you could want or need to recreate your old favourite comforts, and our Healthy Breakfast eBook will show you how to start the day off right.
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Need a little extra help learning how to quit added sugar? Join us for the 8-Week Program. We’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!