On this week’s episode of The Divorce and Separation podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr Delia McCabe, Neuroscientist, Psychologist, Speaker and Author.
Delia shifted her focus from conventional talking therapy after completing her Masters in Psychology. She discovered that what we eat impacts brain functionality, and until the brain is properly nourished, no amount of talking can support cognitive functioning fully.
Delia’s first book, ‘Feed Your Brain – 7 Steps to a Lighter, Brighter You!’ explains the science behind nutrition and brain health and was released mid-2016. Delia has since immersed herself in the fascinating world of nutritional neuroscience and offers a focused, insightful, evidence-based approach to how specific foods can improve our mood, concentration, memory and learning ability and help us manage stress and remain calm and happy in our busy, stressful world, regardless of our age!
In the midst of a separation and the looming possibility of a divorce, how we ‘feed our soul’ can be the difference between coping and crashing. Let’s face it, the realities are going to hit hard during a breakup, and maintaining daily ‘health’ is not always at the top of our priority list.
With men and women experiencing stress and emotional upheaval differently, how we react and respond often adds to a communication breakdown. Delia explains that the female brain is busier than ever. As women, we want to see the impact on everything – so we process everything at once. Our thoughts circulate on overdrive and in turn, become our greatest burden as we try to process the breakdown of the relationship. Women stop caring for themselves as the neuro -network goes into a tailspin. And this generally occurs as a reaction to our lifestyle choices at the time, especially the food we eat.
So, it makes sense that when men compartmentalise their emotions, a steadier structure takes place. It’s not that one person is managing the situation better or worse, it’s that our hormones are wildly different. Women have a different capacity. When women experience trauma, we seem to feel it more deeply, and differently. But that’s not good nor bad. It’s just a natural experience.
Often, my female clients will be so distraught, as they examine how their ex-partner seems to be moving on so quickly, and how is that even possible?
But, in this incredible podcast with Delia, a truth-bomb happened: men aren’t healing faster, they are healing differently.
Let’s normalise this feeling.
Society has taught us that we need perfection fast. How can we do it all and still feel whole? Women can feel empty because, essentially, we are striving for the perfect. And we all have choices to make. So, is sanity and health a value and priority of yours and are you prepared not to get it right every time?
A woman’s and man’s stress response can simply come down to science.
So, how can we offer the nutrients that our stressed out bodies deserve?
Say yes to chocolate! When we look for comfort food, chocolate is usually first on the list. And as Delia recommends, chocolate is GOOD! Don’t ignore it, just don’t eat it necessarily as a breakfast meal.
Yummy food should not be scrapped. Don’t deprive yourself, there is enough deprivation as it is going on. Indulge, mindfully.
Flavour goes across fat and not water: Avoiding fat is really bad news for our taste buds. But healthy doesn’t mean a boring meal. Select foods that are known to reduce stress, such as zinc-based produce, as zinc is so important for upping our appetite for functioning taste buds and stress relief. Who’d think!
Prepare a smoothie a day: The reason smoothies have become so popular during the past decade is pretty simple: they’re versatile, time-efficient, highly nutritious and delicious. In essence, they are the perfect food for stressed out people who may have a flailing appetite, or if preparing meals is not high on the agenda. After all, it’s a meal in a cup.
Up your magnetism: Magnesium is known to boost serotonin (our happy hormone). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness and optimism. Pick Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) based products, such as spinach, sweet potato, kale, and broccoli. When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect, and can reduce anxiety.
Having all these tips in mind is so soothing – when going through trauma.
Wait up, there’s more!
How can stress stop us from healing from a relationship breakdown?
How you move through trauma is so important and it’s common for people to associate guilt and blame: Acknowledge your fear and even anger – these are valid emotions. But eventually, the red mist will cloud and catastrophise your judgement. A breakthrough may not come today, or even tomorrow. It’s one step forward, and sometimes just one tiny step per day.
Food is a powerful healing tool: Sometimes, the last thing we feel like doing is planning our daily diets, but what we put into our bodies will hugely dictate how we feel.
We rewire trauma the wrong way: Bunkering down is completely necessary but staying underground for too long is a groove that we ultimately want to avoid.
We fall into a trap: Male or female, we need to avoid the catastrophic trap of, “I am never going to get through this”. As a seasoned divorce and separation coach, I can compassionately say, this will pass. How, and when, I am not too sure. But it will.
We have the capacity to move through the process, and not get stuck. The person you want to become is the person you are nurturing today. Otherwise, you cannot create the person you want to be.
From me to you, take care of yourself!
Take this season, one step at a time