As a professional speaker, author, mother of two, and the founder of Mission Nutrition, it’s a wonder Claire Turnbull has the energy to do it all. We caught up with Claire as she talked us through all things positive psychology, nutrition, and the relationship between one's physical wellbeing and mind.
Through her work at Mission Nutrition, Claire Turnbull has worked with person after person struggling in their relationship with food. Watching her client's inner battle with eating is something Claire understands in a unique way. "So often the battle people face with food comes down to the fact that they are struggling to deal with some aspect of their life and food becomes the coping strategy for managing difficult feelings or situations."
Our relationship with food impacts quality of life more than many may know. The foods we put into our bodies have a significant effect on mental health, impacting the ability to truly enjoy life.
Claire's Advice to Eating for Mental Health
ADD OMEGA 3: Our body is unable to make omega 3 itself, so you need to get it through diet. It’s super important for a healthy brain and also can play a role in how you feel. Oily fish at least twice a week, salmon is great, or look at taking a GOOD quality supplement.
KEEP YOUR GUT HAPPY: The gut and brain are connected and you guessed it - unhappy gut, unhappy brain! Aim to have at least 5-6 handfuls of veggies a day and when you have grains, go WHOLEGRAIN to keep gut bacteria happy. They feed off fibre. In NZ many people only get on average 20g a day when us ladies need 28g and guys you need 38g.
MANAGE CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL: Both can make you feel anxious, so if you are struggling in this department, dial down. Aim to keep your caffeine intake to less than 400mg a day. That’s about 2-3 single shots of coffee or 4-5 cups of tea… ish. How you make it will affect the caffeine content. ;)
Claire always knew she wanted to study psychology one day. When she heard about a diploma programme on Positive Psychology during a speaking event, she decided to take the leap. Claire has gained a wealth of knowledge through the studies, describing it as a form of psychology that "makes life worth living." The fascinating practice of positive psychology involves facing life with mindfulness and optimism. It’s not about 'being happy all the time,' rather developing the ability to cope with life's curveballs in a positive way.
Positive psychology has already benefited Claire's life immensely. Her knowledge has helped her guide her own parents to reframe their thinking patterns after her father struggled to find hope while battling cancer and her father-in-law was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She’s helped them find the good in their everyday lives so they can enjoy the time that they have. The mental training has allowed people, like Claire and her parents, who are dealing with a tough time to have the ability to enjoy life's happy moments - even when life's obstacles make it seem ridiculously hard.
When we asked Claire for some tips on how one can incorporate elements of positive psychology into their daily life, she had an abundance of knowledge to share. Every tip Claire mentioned seemed to have one thing in common: seek positivity. Throughout your days, seek the good in life and in yourself.
According to Claire, the actions you take can help you incorporate positive psychology throughout your life, as well. Pursue hobbies, get creative, hang out with those you love - anything that helps lift your mood can have a massive impact on your happiness. Pursue happiness through giving back to loved ones and the community. When you’re struggling, seek hope. According to Claire, "You need something to hold on to when life gets hard." Hope can be that as you fight life's most challenging battles.
As a Qualified Nutritionist, Claire knows a thing or two about fueling your body to keep the mind happy, energy booming, and health in tip-top shape. Through her work at Healthy Food Guide magazine, Claire has provided wonderful tips for athletes from all different walks of life. She knows that giving your body the nutrients it needs is one of the best ways to keep a runner's body as healthy and happy as possible.
Claire's Top 5 Tips to Eating Healthier
- Focus on putting more of the good stuff in rather than listing all the things you can't have, it will only make you want them more.
- Eat to appetite - it takes practice, but your body has a natural ability to regulate how much food you eat, we just often override it.
- Eat for the right reasons - so often we eat because we’re tired, bored, stressed, angry or just… out of habit, even when we aren't hungry. Tuning in to WHY you are eating can be a game-changer!
- Manage your access to food! Much of our eating is habitual. Make it EASIER to access the healthier options and WAY WAY harder to access the stuff you want to eat less of!
- PLAN PLAN PLAN. Pre-planning your meals reduces your reliance on willpower and makes it much easier to eat well.
Nutrition isn't the only thing Claire uses to keep a sound mind and sound body. Claire feels her happiest and healthiest when she takes the time to pair good nutrition with healthy habits every single day. She shared with us her running routine go-to’s.
Morning, lunchtime, evening runner?
Morning, I am an early bird to the core!
Favourite pre-run and post-run snack / meal?
Pre-run - not much, prefer to have an empty stomach, post-run - a good smoothie, banana, milk, berries and spinach
Outside of your shoes, what’s one running essential you can’t go without?
Music, I LOVE a good tune!
Best piece of running advice you’ve ever received?
Keep up the habit, try and train at a similar time each day
Running Solo or Running in a group?
Solo, running is MY time. I am not one for group exercise. I wear a cap to avoid people haha!
Music, Podcast, or your own thoughts? What are they?
Music ALL THE WAY, pop, dance music, anything upbeat and funky!
In 3 words how would you describe yourself as a runner?
Nature, variety, cold (I hate running when it is hot)
Favourite running route in NZ?
I like to mix it up, variety is my key - I love all the beaches and running through local bushland.
Running distance a week?
Very up and down… but I keep up the habit of going even if just for 20mins if that's all I have with my kids to juggle.
I run because….
It makes me feel free!! I can think my own thoughts and enjoy nature.
Where does your mind tend to wander while running?
After initially running through my to-do list, I actually end up feeling very grateful for all the cool things in my life.
What’s your #1 way of maintaining a sound mind?
Sleep. Hands down. After experiencing hallucinations with my second child through sleep deprivation and actually, genuinely losing my mind, I have learnt that sleep is the most important thing above all.
Favourite ASICS shoe?
Just one?! Haha… GT-2000 SX
One of the most significant habits Claire focuses on is getting enough sleep. She works to keep her body in rhythm by going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day. Yes, that includes the weekends, too. At least four nights a week, Claire sits with her Calm app, which guides her through meditation. A great practice for keeping the mind healthy along with battling negative thoughts through self-awareness and mindfulness.
Her absolute non-negotiable method for keeping a sound mind and sound body is to get moving every single day. According to Claire, "I cannot be my best self if I don't move my body in one way or another daily." Claire prefers to get her exercise done in the great outdoors. Anything that gets her out in nature, whether that be walking, running, biking, bush exploring, or enjoying some mud puddles with her kids fills her cup and makes her happy!
If you're interested in seeking help with nourishing your mind-gut connection, Claire and her team at Mission Nutrition are there to talk to.
Read more about amazing men and women working to help others better understand their mental health and physical fitness. Check out our Sound Mind Sound Body series on the blog.