Figuring out what to eat can be a challenge of epic proportions for the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), because everything we eat affects us so much.
If we don’t eat enough we feel light-headed, drained, anxious and jittery.
If we eat too much, or the wrong things, mind fog sets in big time.
We’re also prone to digestive issues and to everything else that goes with having a sensitive constitution.
Processed foods affect us more than most – refined sugar and caffeine are powerful mind-altering drugs for us.
But if we strip away all that and eat a super clean raw diet, our emotions can feel far too…well…raw.
While food that’s unfired is an essential component of any diet, eating 100% raw is challenging for HSPs, as we need to eat in a way that calms and grounds us.
It’s hard to get enough grounding foods on a raw diet without overdoing the fats (though we certainly shouldn’t underdo them either; they’re essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system).
A whole foods diet is the way to go – experiment to find the amount of raw that works for you, and also the foods that you feel best on.
The number one rule is the same for you as for everyone else: make vegetables the centre of your diet. Enjoy them in salads, juices, smoothies, soups, stews and other dishes.
They are grounding, balancing, and loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
With vegetables as the star of the show, pick from a supporting cast that can include nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and high-quality animal foods, if you desire.
Stay away from stimulants, and not just the obvious ones like cola, coffee and cocaine. Give cacao a wide berth (it’s not for nothing that it’s often referred to as “crackao”) and if your adrenals are exhausted you may find you need to skip the green tea, too, and opt for caffeine-free alternatives.
Beware of extreme detox regimes such as water or juice fasts.
These put a great deal of strain on the body’s organs and systems and are very depleting.
HSPs fare much better on gentler detox diets because, as psychologist Elaine Aron writes in her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You:
“Hunger is yet another stimulus. Besides arousing one further it produces a dimunition of the biochemical substances necessary for the usual, calmer functioning of the nervous system.”
So while a juice fast might seem like the quickest way to get results, it can be counterproductive.
It can put nervous system in a state of stress, which will switch on its sympathetic “fight or flight” branch, and switch off its parasympathetic “detox and rest” one.
So although it’s counterintuitive, you are likely to experience deeper detoxification, faster, on a less punishing regime.
When our blood sugar is out, us HSPs feel it quickly and profoundly in the form of anxiety, light-headedness, tiredness and/or irritability, so eating for blood sugar balance is essential.
This means eating regularly, and eating grounding and balancing foods such as greens and healthy fats and proteins.
I also recommend taking chlorella between meals, as this can help keep blood sugar balanced, and is also loaded with healthy chlorophyll.
Our sensitivity makes us prone to stress, and stress burns through magnesium and B vitamins at a fantastic rate, so we may need to supplement those.
For Bs, choose from a multi-vitamin/mineral or a good B-Complex – either way, ideally go for one that’s free of magnesium stearate (which, as I explained here, does not give you magnesium; it’s a synthetic flow agent added to make manufacturing equipment run more smoothly).
The most effective way to get extra magnesium into your body is transdermally, i.e. through the skin.
There are two ways to do this and you can take your pick, or do them both:
1. Rub magnesium oil into your skin every morning after washing and before getting dressed.
2. Add 500g of magnesium salts to a hot bath once a week and soak for half an hour. If you’re feeling especially frazzled make it a whole kilo.
- Eat regularly and resist any urge to undereat.
- Base your diet around vegetables.
- Be sure to get plenty of healthy fats.
- If you need extra help balancing your blood sugar, take chlorella between meals.
- Steer clear of stimulants.
- If you’re feeling stressed, give yourself extra magnesium and B vitamins.
For more tips, check out my guide to thriving as a highly sensitive person.