Nutrition and Stamina–Eating Foods that Fuel You

Nutrition and stamina are keys to good health.

There are lots of different ways to build your nutrition and stamina. From adjusting your mindset, to getting good sleep, to eating the foods that fuel you up instead of deplete you. That’s why today I’m talking with the Queen of All Things Nutrition, Mary Sheila Gonella of Occidental Nutrition in Northern California.

Nutrition Is the Key to Self-care and Stamina

Mary Sheila is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Ayurvedic Practitioner. She teaches her clients how to honor their unique physiology, move self-care to the front burner, and achieve and maintain radiant health. Also, the food Mary Sheila makes is flat-out delicious. I had the pleasure of getting to know her in a year-long mastermind and she was my favorite roommate at our retreats because she would bring the best snacks!!

Mary Sheila, thanks for coming on! I wanted to talk with you today because we’re going through a time of unrelenting uncertainty and the stress that comes with that isn’t going to be letting up any time soon. So I want to provide listeners with some new ideas and strategies around how they can build their own stamina. And what and how we eat has so much to do with our resilience. 

What does resilience mean to you?

Mary Sheila: “When I think of resilience and self-care I think of having reserves to be able to stand your ground. And I feel like when you’re in resilience you have less of a chance of jumping into reactivity. Reactivity can be exhausting and take your reserves and let other things in that you may not want to take in your space instead of standing your ground, being resilient, and going the extra mile.”

And how does food tie into that? 

Mary Sheila: “We are made up of what we eat and that gives us the reserves and energy we need for our life and day today. One of the things that food does is it has the ability, especially if we put in the right fuel, to give us that balance. I often talk about balance. And even in hormonal balance, the digestion system, and the endocrine system and our ability to react to any kind of stress. So food has the ability to nourish us in a deep way. It can also strip us and give us things we don’t want to have. But ultimately, if we think of food as our medicine and its ability to nourish, it can give us that stamina and endurance.”

What is the Parasympathetic Nervous System and how does our diet stimulate it?

Mary Sheila: “In the human body we have the sympathetic nervous system which is our ‘fight or flight.’ And we have our parasympathetic which is our ‘rest and digest’. Depending on whats happening for us,  this is how our body is going to be in one or the other. Generally, when we are in any kind of stress (work, driving, etc.) we are more in that fight or flight. And when we go to rest, eat, sleep, or mediate we access our rest and digest which is tapping into that autonomic nervous system; the part of the body that we don’t think about (our breath, heartbeat, etc.)

All the excretions that come out when we digest are part of our ‘rest and digest’. It is very easy for us, even if we have a history of trauma to live in the sympathetic. But, we have an opportunity when we sit down and eat a meal, to access that rest and digest. Being able to go between the two and not just be stuck in one, that is a way to help build resilience.”

What are  2-3 simple things we can do to support ourselves during trying times?

Mary Sheila: “One of the things I think is important is to have a meal versus snacking. Think of all the things that come into a meal. It is about sitting yourself down and having a meal that has protein, fats, carbohydrates. The more stress you have, the more there is a need for those proteins and fats. So the ultimate goal is for you to have those two to three times that you actually nourish your body with food and have a meal.

When we snack, that’s when we tend to be eating just carbs that can affect our hormonal balance because it affects our insulin and blood sugar levels. That is not true nourishment to help us rebuild during times of stress. Stress breaks us down faster, so we need more fuel the more that we are stressed. Give your body the time to be in rest and digest and eat a meal. We also need to hydrate. Make sure you have a water handy all of the time and hydrate between meals and not just during meals!”

What is your go-to meal?

Mary Sheila: “Soup with bone broth and Miso!”

How can people connect with you?

Mary Sheila: “My website is: Occidental Nutrition and my Facebook page and Youtube channel are all ‘Occidental Nutrition’. If you go to my website you can grab The Breakfast Report, all about how to start your day and fuel yourself with your first meal.

Daily Tiny Assignment:

Today’s tiny assignment is to make the next thing you eat a proper meal. Make a plate that has some carbs, some protein, some fat. Or as I tell my kids, ‘something yummy and something fresh.’ Then actually sit down and eat it. Take a couple breaths before you dive in. Think of it as how you are nourishing yourself and feeding your stamina. This is a tough one for me, as I am often eating cheese and crackers standing at the kitchen counter for lunch. And post a pic to your Instagram stories and tag me @katehanleyauthor.


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