Friday, 6 May 2016

Food for Nerves

Nerves do not befriend my stomach on performance days. Whether that day entails an audition, a music gig, a writing pitch, or simply a walk down the red carpet, my fight or flight response is tipped off and my body is too busy preparing to outrun a tiger to bother with anything else.

It is not uncommon for a nerve wracked day to look something like this:

Wake up
Get dressed etc.
Warm up
Travel there
Fall down from exhaustion (okay, that’s slightly dramatic, but you SO know what I’m talking about)

Did you notice that this list is kind of missing something important? Especially if said performance takes place later in the day? Yeah… FOOD.

I have a horrible time eating when I’m nervous but turns out (go figure) it’s kind of important. You know, there’s the whole needing energy to function thing.

So, in light of my new self-care approach to this whole career deal, I asked myself the following: How do I get myself to eat more when I’m nervous or at least enough to keep my energy up and what  exactly are the best foods to accomplish this?

Answer: Foods that are easy to get down and stay down with the best nutritional punch! Ideally, foods that are brain fueling.

Here is what I’ve come up with through research and trying them out for myself. These foods and being mindful to prepare them ahead of time have proven very beneficial for my finicky stomach and freaked out adrenals.

  1. Berries - especially blueberries.  
  2. Salmon - this can be tricky if your tummy ain’t happy, but if you’re able to stomach it salmon will really help your brain out. 
  3. Nuts and seeds - easy to throw in your bag and will give you a nice boost of energy.
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Avocado
  6. Chia seeds - I like picking up a Mama Chia from the grocery store to cart around with me for a quick shot of fuel.
  7. Flax seed
  8. Brown rice 
  9. Kale
  10. Spinach - the most I can handle for lunch when nervous is a light salad. Spinach is my go to leaf of choice. 

*Extra note on juicing and smoothies:

I know it’s a craze right now and you’re probably sick of hearing it but it’s just the plain old truth that if all else fails you food wise a green juice or smoothie is your best option. Especially with some ginger in it. Ginger will help ease your tummy and anxiety. I am a total juice convert and Vancouver has so many options for you to pick one up. Sometimes my introverted self is so nervous I can’t handle solids. On those days a good raw juice or smoothie will carry me through with tons of focused energy.

Here’s some of my fave places to grab one in Van-city:

The Juice Truck
The Green Moustache

Lastly, to circle back and answer the first part of my question:

If, like me, you are apt to forget to eat, schedule time with a supportive friend before you have to perform. I try to grab a quick bite with M if possible. Even just half an hour with my friend reminds me I am not alone when it comes to nerves and that I have emotional support AND it guarantees I will at least get a little food in my belly.

Take care, be well and remember to be gentle with yourself. Nerves are just your body’s way of protecting you, so give it some much deserved love, kindness and support.

- J

*J, I like that we snack together on good food. - M

**Moms, Happy Mother's Day (on Sunday) love love love - M&J

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© M&J
Maira Gall