1. Hi Lena, please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a passionate holistic nutritionist and recipe developer. I completed my diploma in nutrition in 2015 which sparked the joy of combining my knowledge of nutrition and love for food. I love the magical feeling of taking a few simple ingredients and turning them into something delicious and am now lucky enough to do this as a career. When I'm not busy in the kitchen creating new recipes, you can find me in nature in the Waitakere ranges in Auckland, or out for a paddle in my kayak.
2. What role does nutrition play when it comes to our mental wellbeing?
Nutrition plays a HUGE role! Nutrition has such an immense role when it comes to mental wellbeing, the food we choose to nourish our bodies with directly impacts our mental state in many ways. If we feel good within our physical self, we tend to feel better in our mind too. Although the association between nutrition and mental wellbeing can be extremely complex, for me it comes down to a few fundamental factors, connection, enjoyment and mindfulness.
3 reasons why nutrition is key for our mental wellness
- Connection: the best food is food that’s shared - connecting with loved ones over a meal always fills my cup.
- Enjoyment: for me, food is so much more than fuel - the fun of creating a delicious meal or recipe and being able to eat and share it brings me so much joy.
- Mindfulness: you’ve heard it before, but the more you can slow down and be present with what’s on your plate, the more your mind (& body) will benefit.
3. What nutrients should we prioritise for our mental wellbeing?
During times of stress, focus on eating a variety of fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods and supplements wherever you can.
We have so many amazing supportive products available at our fingertips today. One of the things I prioritise, when I'm stressed, is my gut health, making sure I'm getting enough fibre through foods like chia seeds, oats, berries, dark leafy greens and supplementing as I need.
My go-to supplement for gut health is Two Islands Happy Gut as it has a fantastic combination of ingredients, tastes great and is super easy to take. A healthy gut microbiome is so important for a healthy balanced good mood.
4. Top nutritional tip for busy people who don’t have time to make a meal every day?
Being organised is KEY
Make a weekly meal plan and shopping list. Every Sunday I sit down with my fiancé and we make a meal plan and shopping list for the week ahead. We choose nourishing meals that we love and buy versatile ingredients that are in season.
We know what we are cooking each night so we can plan and prepare ingredients in advance. Whether it's marinating a protein, making a sauce or chopping some vegetables, all these small steps help to take the stress out of creating your evening meal. I have found that that is the best way to make sure that you have a delicious meal every day.
Bonus tip: try functional foods
Another thing that is super simple is to have some easy add in ‘functional foods’.These could be mushroom or collagen powder in your morning coffee, a green powder or probiotic in a smoothie or setting aside some time to make snacks for the week ahead. And I love to always have a stash of these protein bites in the freezer.
5. What’s your favourite mood-boosting recipe?
Right now, I'm really enjoying replacing my habitual morning coffee with an almond milk matcha latte that's boosted with Ashwagandha powder. I find this is a super nourishing way to start my day and support my adrenals.
6. What are your favourite ways to look after your mental wellness?
Other than trying to nourish myself with delicious wholefoods, I find that even if it is the last thing I feel like doing, getting out into nature is so good for my mental state.
Whether this is a walk, working in the garden or even just sitting on the beach absorbing some sun rays, these things make me feel grounded and calm.
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