Author of Cooking to Cure – A nutritional approach to anxiety and depression, Angela is a pioneer in the natural and holistic prevention and cure of common mental health problems. With a degree in psychology and 25 years as a licensed clinical social worker she writes education courses for mental health therapists on lifestyle strategies. She lives in Montana on her land with her horses and dogs and manages her own private practice.
1) What three things do you do to keep your mind healthy?
Being physically active, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep. All of these things require a certain amount of effort and I don’t always do a perfect job of all of them, but the payoff is well worth it.
I try to walk or bike at least 2 miles each day. My dogs help with that. On days I might tend to blow it off, they insist on an outing so that spurs me to get out and do it. I also live on a small acreage with horses so taking care of them and doing lawn and garden work gives me a lot to do, especially in the non-winter months.
I avoid highly processed food. I grow a lot of the food I eat and basically try to eat a variety of “real” food.
2) What is your morning routine?
I have a very “chill” morning routine. When the weather allows, I sit by my goldfish pond outside and watch the fish and listen to the little waterfall while I drink coffee. There is quite a lot of bird activity that I enjoy watching as well. It is peaceful and I am always grateful for these mornings. I contemplate my day and what I hope to accomplish.
Then I feed my dogs and cats before heading out to the barn to feed the horses. After everyone is fed, I enjoy breakfast. Next up is usually taking the dogs out for a walk. Then I am ready to start the day.
3) Which quote leaves you feeling most inspired?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I try to have that be my guiding principle. It helps me to sometimes be more kind or more patient with people than I might be otherwise. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes.
4) What is your favourite daily ritual?
My favourite daily ritual is morning coffee by the pond. My second favourite would be taking the dogs for a walk or a bike ride each day. Going out at sunset is my favourite time to do that. I live in the country with great views of the sky all around so sunsets can be awesome.
5) What would be your best beauty advice?
I think getting enough sleep is not emphasized enough. Not getting enough sleep is all too common. Without enough sleep we can be inattentive, unappreciative, and generally feel “off”. And lack of sleep definitely affects one’s sense of humor!
6) What is your favourite thing to do on a day off?
It depends on the time of year. I love exploring new places. Hiking a new trail, seeing new breathtaking scenery, discovering artifacts…those are great ways to spend a day off in good weather. In the winter I might go skiing or cozy up to the wood stove with a good book and cup of hot tea.
7) In your book you educate people on the link between what we eat and our mental health. If you could give 3 key tips what would they be?
Avoid processed food as much as possible and eat primarily whole, “real” food with emphasis on vegetables and fruits.
Pay special attention to nutritionally dense foods. In other words, foods where you get “more bang for your buck” in nutrients. For instance, in a salad, spinach or mixed greens are a better choice than iceberg lettuce because they have more nutrients. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with white potatoes and green beans, and I certainly eat and enjoy them, they aren’t as nutrient dense as some other things. Think about sometimes switching them out with broccoli and sweet potatoes instead.
Finally, and maybe the most important thing, would be to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids while decreasing omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory while omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. The ideal ratio of omega-3’s to omega-6’s in our diet should be from 1:1–1:4. The modern “Western Diet” is very high in omega-6’s and very low in omega-3’s with a ratio of about 1:25 or more! Chronic inflammation is linked to pretty much all modern diseases and disorders, including depression. Increasing omega-3’s and decreasing omega-6’s will decrease the likelihood of inflammation in our bodies (including our brains).
8) When you are feeling stressed what do you do to relax and unwind?
Going for a walk works very well for me. It distracts me from the source of the stress and allows my mind to drift to other things and helps me get re-centered. If I have difficulty getting my mind off of the stressor, I listen to an audiobook or podcast while I’m walking. That helps me focus my attention elsewhere. By the time I get back home, whatever was upsetting me is back in perspective.
9) What’s your go to, quick and easy healthy meal?
Stir-fry. I throw together whatever I have in the fridge and/or garden. I might add some brown rice or I might not – that depends on how much time I have or if I have some leftover rice in the fridge already.
10) What is happiness to you?
To me happiness is contentment. It’s being satisfied….satisfied that I am where I am supposed to be and content in my circumstances. The opposite of contentment is always wanting more. I think it’s hard to be truly happy until you know you have enough and that you are enough. Contentment is when you have enough and you are enough. Contentment is the root that happiness grows from.
11) What is your biggest fear?
I really don’t have any big fears. I could develop some pretty big fears if I spent too much time on the Internet or watching the news. I can understand why so many people have spiking anxiety given things going on in the U.S. and around the world. There is so much threat and uncertainty. When I feel fearful I know I’m out of balance. I remove myself from the fearful thinking and get re-grounded in the here and now. That’s when I go back to my stress management techniques to re-center. Living in fear is no way to live.
12) What is your biggest challenge in everyday life and how do you work on over coming it?
My biggest challenge in everyday life is getting all the nutrients I need from eating healthy food without getting too many calories. I love food and even though I generally eat very healthy food, I can easily eat too much of it!
13) Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is my uncle Charles. He’s my mother’s oldest brother. He has been a rock in my life. He was a career pastor and then chaplain at a Baptist university for 20 years. After he retired from there he went back to pastoring, which he is still doing in his 80’s. While I have never shared his religious faith, I admire the way he has lived his life and the stands he has taken for truth and social justice. He was kicked out of at least one church back in the 1960’s for refusing to refuse black people from entering the all-white church. He was friends with Martin Luther King Sr. and when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, my uncle Charles and another white minister friend stayed in the home of Martin Luther King Sr. for three days to help the family. This was in a time in this country when white people did not enter the homes of black people. I’m proud of the stand he took and the sacrifices he made for racial equality. He’s strong, courageous, caring and always seeking to learn.
To find out more about Cooking to Cure click here