Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Write Diet

Helloooooo, all! I'm sitting at my kitchen island, staring at a desolate backyard, brown with patches of white. The snow has not all melted off the grass, despite it having been dry for some time, and won't until the temperatures get jacked up enough to warrant melt. Right now I'm patiently waiting for snow fleas to circle the property. Once they appear, I know spring is upon us.

 I've been daydreaming about warm weather since the ball dropped in Times Square. I don't do well in cold temps. Not physically and not mentally. I have a tendency to eat crap in the winter months, grabbing junk from the pantry because fridge foods are too cold to gobble up when I'm already cranky about the chill in the air. And when I'm drafting, trying to get those words on the page as quickly as possible, I reach for nutritional powerhouses like candy and chocolate chips. I mindlessly pop those in my mouth for sustenance. Hours later, I wonder why I feel like garbage.

I don't think it's an over-generalization to say that writers are probably not the healthiest occupational group. Standing desks and dictation software have provided some freedom from the constant sitting, but how many of us utilize them? I going to guess that most writers sit at a day job and then come home to sit at their desk. Throw in a commute and our asses are constantly in something. Toss in some poor eating choices and all we're doing is making it harder to for our brains to work.

Lately I've been doing some reading on the Mind Diet. The MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay and combines the best of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet (a nutritional program specifically aimed at lowering hypertension). Researchers found that if you smoosh the diets together, you can prevent cognitive decline. You could possibly prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

The diet is fairly simple. It is mostly plant-based. Whole foods. No processed crap. It promotes leafy greens and vegetables and fruit. It specifically recommends two services of berries a week. Why berries? Because in a major study, researchers found that people who ate blueberries and strawberries had the slowest rate of cognitive decline. The diet also recommends five servings of nuts per week because nuts have Vitamin E and Vitamin E is good for the brain, and three services of whole grains a day like oatmeal and brown rice. Whole wheat bread is fine too. A glass of wine (one! Kim, just one) per day is also recommended. And beans. They make you fart, and they apparently make you smart. Fiber and Vitamin B are also great for the brain.

Now, of course, I'm simplifying all this. I'd recommend jumping online and checking out the research for yourselves. But there is something to be said about eating healthy, whole foods to help your brain. And I'd like to think that anything that prevents cognitive decline will boost the writer's brain.

Creativity feeds off inspiration. But it also needs actual food. It's takes a lot of mental energy to create story worlds and character arcs and build a narrative. Snacking on chocolate chips isn't going to help me. I know that. Eating oatmeal might.
Breakfast of brain champions
I don't know if it's Mommy Brain or something more nefarious, but lately I've been feeling like my brain is soup. I'll forget an actor's name that I should know, or I'll struggle to find a word to complete a sentence. Sometimes I simply can't focus long enough to be productive. And there might be many reasons for that--inadequate sleep, numerous demands for my attention, and just the whole of life weighing down on me. Something always gives. But if I can do something small--like eating better--to improve my brain, then I will. Because my books aren't going to write themselves. And I like thinking. I do it a lot.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Do you follow a healthy diet to work better? Do you notice a difference?

Please sound off in the comments.

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