How This Food Journalist Manages Anxiety
There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.
Liz Moody started her career as a syndicated newspaper columnist, traveling all over the world. These days, you can find her living with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, and writing about food. She’s currently a contributing food editor at Mindbodygreen, where she was the food director for two years. She also hosts a podcast called Healthier Together. Moody’s new cookbook of the same name was released in April 2019.
This week, Moody shares with Medium the inspiration for her new cookbook, her morning routine, and the recipe for a perfect smoothie.
It took me a long time to get on board with a morning routine, because I always thought it was wellness bullshit. I was like, “Who has time for that?” I just wanted to get up and launch my day. But then I went through a bad bit of anxiety about a year and a half ago. In desperation, I was like, I’m going to try this morning routine thing and see what happens. And I actually liked it.
For me, a morning routine is all about grounding myself in what I want and what I feel. I wake up around 8:30, usually without an alarm. I’ll set an alarm if I have an important meeting, but I try to fall asleep when I’m tired and wake up when I’m awake. I also try not to turn on my phone for 50 minutes. The second you turn your phone on, you become reactive, so I keep it in airplane mode. I cuddle my husband and my cat. Then I brush my teeth and do a brushing rinse with hydrogen peroxide. I think you should brush your teeth first thing, before you even swallow, because you accumulate bacteria overnight. Then I have a big glass of lukewarm water and a probiotic.
After that, I sit down and meditate. I am not a cute meditator. I don’t sit on a pillow with my legs crossed. I do Vedic meditation, in which they teach you to sit on a chair with your back straight. I go over to the couch and put a pile of blankets on top of me. I put on my noise-canceling headphones and find a white-noise video on YouTube so my husband can get ready around me. At the end of my meditation, I finish it off by saying a few things to myself that I think I need to hear. I figure if I’m in this relaxed state, my brain might be more primed to hear those things.
Next, I do a workout. I’ve found that if I wake up and my anxiety is at a level five, I can drop it to a level one or two with a home workout. If I can, I do home workouts three times per week. Sometimes I’ll just do a workout in my underwear on my floor because even putting on yoga clothes feels like too much work. I almost always keep my workouts to 30 minutes, because that has benefits for anxiety, but 30 minutes is where the benefits peak, according to research.
Breakfast is a green smoothie every single morning. I get really sad when I don’t have my green smoothies. I even try to make them when I’m traveling. They’re easy to digest, and I put a lot of protein in them. I have a smoothie formula in my new cookbook for how to make the perfect green smoothie every time. My favorite flavor profile right now is chocolate, cherry, and cardamom.
I’m not super strict with food. I think food is about relationships, pleasure, nourishing your body, and feeling really good. When you try to deprive yourself outside of specific and necessary conditions, you’re losing what food is all about. I tend to cook things that make me feel good. I tend toward gluten-free, dairy-free, and plant-heavy foods. I like to be able to make my food, but I also like to go out and eat pizza with my friends. If I feel like I’m overdoing it on heavy foods, I’ll do a 30-day challenge where I eat 100% homemade food for 30 days. I find that this resets me, and it’s really the only level of restriction I’m comfortable with. Within that homemade framework, I can still eat brownies and cookies—they just have to be homemade. If I get more restrictive than that, I don’t enjoy my life as much.
A lot of the things I eat and cook tend to be healthy versions of trashy food.
I’m kind of a trashy eater. I was raised on boiled hot dogs and fast food, so a lot of the things I eat and cook tend to be healthy versions of trashy food. A lot of my cookbook is stuff like taquitos and salted caramel popcorn. I love barbecue chickpeas, because they taste like a bag of chips, but you’re eating chickpeas.
I don’t go to bed at a specific time. I try not to stay up past midnight, but sometimes I can’t be in bed by 10:30 or 11 p.m., because I want to have fun and enjoy my life. If I’m not out with friends, I love to read on the couch with my husband and catch up with him about his day.
Before bed, I always water-pick my teeth. If you don’t have a water pick, buy one now—they’re amazing. After that, I get into bed. I have a really cozy bed, all natural and organic, set up to be a sanctuary. I turn on my white-noise machine and put on my night hood sleep mask. I love that thing. I also turn on my air purifier, and I try to take magnesium. I often take CBD as well before bed, because it’s great for anxiety.
Lately I’ve been working on catching my own negative self-talk. I think most of us have a tendency to compare ourselves to other people or to think that our lives or feelings are less than. I also tend to tie my self-worth to my job and my output, so I’m trying not to do that anymore. I want to surround myself with good people who would love me even if I was dumpster diving for a living.
For me, health is when your body, mind, and soul all feel really good. I think we get caught up in the body in the wellness world, and a lot of that has to do with companies trying to tell us what we “need” to be healthy. It’s not real. I do think you should work out, eat well, and probably take a few supplements — but definitely not as many as people try to sell us. When all three of these things are aligned — mind, body, and soul — I think that’s healthy. That’s us knowing what we need in our own lives.