This week we are featuring Elizabeth Gunner for Self-Care Sunday. Elizabeth graduated from Cornell University in 2018 with a concentration in Nutritional Science within the Didactic Program of Dietetics (DPD). Elizabeth is currently completing a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietician, and is also a co-host of the podcast, The  Real Dieticians of New York City, where she discusses current nutrition trends and research. Read below to learn more about the intrinsic link between nutrition and psychology, and what makes Elizabeth feel powerful and confident. 

Do you have any tips for how people can develop a diet that is healthy yet also environmentally conscious?

That’s a great question. Fortunately, what’s better for the earth is typically also better for our bodies! Fruits, vegetables, and plant-protein sources such as beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds all have a relatively low carbon footprint. On top of this, if you are able to support your local stores and farms by getting these items there, that’s even better! Pasture-raised eggs are another great option since they are one of the most climate-friendly sources of animal protein. However, foods that come in plastic packaging, such as chips and water, contribute to further plastic waste. Try to opt for paper or glass containers instead.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions regarding nutrition and weight loss?

That weight loss will automatically lead to happiness and that in order to lose weight you have to do bizarre things like chug Apple Cider Vinegar every day. First, losing weight won’t make you happy. You make you happy. Second, leave the ACV for the three-bean salad.

“I feel powerful and confident when I am living a life that’s authentic to who I am, and choosing to engage in opportunities for pure enjoyment and nothing else.”

What are some tips to enhance one’s metabolism?

Exercise regularly and find exercises that you love. If you love it, you’re more likely to stick with it. Some of my favorites are dancing, ice-skating, and walking. If you can, try to stay active throughout the entire day. 10 minute intervals of walking during the day can really help! As far as food goes, don’t fall for the fat-burning supplements and Facebook Ads. Eat foods that are healthy for you emotionally, mentally, and physically.

How can people incorporate micro-changes to their diet to promote a healthier lifestyle?

As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Changes at a micro-level are great! Many micro-level changes can lead to macro-level results. Start with something small and do it every day. Whether that be adding spinach to your typical post-workout smoothie or sprinkling flaxseed on your oatmeal. Many small changes like these, add up!

In what ways does diet play a role in one’s psychological state?  

The food one consumes plays a notable part in one’s psychological health. In fact, there’s an upcoming area of research called “Nutritional Psychiatry.” What’s interesting is that foods can affect how you feel. For example, serotonin is a trendy neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, inhibit pain, and facilitate moods. 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract (aka, your gut)! What’s more, the GI tract is lined with a hundred million neurons. This means that your GI system doesn’t just help you digest foods, it guides your emotions via the production of neurotransmitters. These findings correlate with nutrition because, the tiny bacteria that live in your gut make up our microbiome. Therefore, a diverse and healthy microbiome will promote optimal gut neuron functioning and consequentially adequate production of serotonin. This is great news because if we consume foods that support a healthy gut, we are also supporting the health of our emotions. Kinda cool, right!

What makes you feel powerful and confident?

Living a life that’s authentic to who I am. Choosing to engage in opportunities for pure enjoyment and nothing else. No expectations and no need for recognition. Finally, approaching every situation from a place of love and abundance rather than fear and lack. Turn your fear into your fuel.