When I was 14 years old, I was given flowers on Valentineís Day and they were beautiful.
For a few days, I existed in a bit of a spin wondering who this secret admirer could be. It turned out later that the flowers were from my stepdad, a clever move designed to improve my mumís Valentineís Day by not having a nobody-loves-me teenager in the house. (Genius, yes?)
By the time I found out, the world had moved on and I was too busy focusing on some other drama to be devastated. Decades later, thereís no doubt that the day itself can be a little crazy. Hallmark have kinda run away with the concept, after all. But if you ask me, itís always fun to focus on love!
Whether itís cuddles on the sofa or bedroom Olympics, it helps to be in the mood. Thing is, many of us are so busy and stressed that our libidos tend to dive-bomb. Itís hard to feel sexy when you still have to load the dishwasher and take out the trash. With work e-mails constantly pinging on our phones, toddlers reappearing long after bedtime and laundry coming out of our ears, we could be forgiven for choosing comfy pants and an early night.
So how, when we know in theory we would like to spice things up, do we actually make it happen?
Of course, clearing relationship grudges and confusion is always a good place to start. But chat to your friends or a therapist about that Ö I wonít pretend itís my speciality area!
Where I can help you is with some nutrition tips that are surprisingly effective. What you eat and drink, likely has much more of an impact than you think. Read on!
Itís not just what you do, itís what you donít do
As promising as some supplements may be, you canít out-supplement a bad diet. If your libido is on the floor and you generally consume a processed diet full of junk, then no wonder. Thereís no point taking zinc and essential fats with a burger and fries! Try and commit to a few weeks of clean eating and see how you feel on the other side. You might just feel so good that it motivates you to continue. And when you make dietary changes because you want to (not because you have to), then you have hit lifestyle gold. Itís so easy!
I mention zinc and essential fats for a reason. Both are important for healthy hormone balance, which is the foundation for a cracking sex drive. You can find zinc in pumpkin seeds, oats, oysters, turkey and shrimp. You can find essential fats in unroasted nuts and seeds, wild salmon, oily fish and avocados. If you donít like oily fish, then try a good quality fish oil supplement such as Nordic Naturals (Peopleís), Life Extension (Rock On) or Innate Choice (Inside Out Wellness). If you are on medication for epilepsy, then fish oil supplements are usually contraindicated. This may be true for other meds (especially blood thinners), so always check in with your physician.
Balance your blood sugar
Key for hormone balance and mood. Also key for preventing the cravings that lead to sugar/junk food overload, which in turn leads to feelings of shame and regret, ie not feeling sexy! Try eating little and often through the day, only picking healthy carbs (eg wholegrains, root veg, fruit or beans/lentils) and always pairing those carbs with protein. A sample day: breakfast: vegetable omelette and a bowl of berries; snack: an apple and some almonds; lunch: salad with salmon or chicken, beans and olives; snack: carrots and hummus; dinner: quinoa with fish and green vegetables. If you need a little chocolate in your life, try some dark chocolate and a handful of nuts.
Itís basic, but so important. The first sign of dehydration is fatigue. So if you donít have any energy, check you are drinking enough water. It also helps to prevent constipation, which can be the root cause of gas and bloating (a bit of a passion killer, letís face it).
Collagen is famous for improving skin health and elasticity including, (donít be shocked) the integrity of the vaginal wall! Pick a grass-fed collagen hydrolysate (eg the Great Lakes brand at Miles) and stir in 1 teaspoon at a time into tea or coffee. Goes fine in smoothies too. Itís also good for phase 2 liver detox, gut health, hair growth and preventing wrinkles/cellulite. (Donít worry, the cashiers wonít judge you although they might give you a wink!)
Itís not just oysters ó a good job, as I think theyíre gross (each to their own!) ó but also bananas, watermelon, dark chocolate and high-quality protein can boost serotonin and your libido. Hooray!
Often used to help improve breast milk production, fenugreek can also improve sex drive in men as it seems to regulate poor testosterone levels. Bumper breast milk supplies in women and an improved libido in men might lead to a somewhat bizarre or wet Valentineís experience but Ö. good luck! You can get fenugreek in supplement form or as a tea.
Remember, adequate sleep improves everything. Specifically, though, men who only get four hours of sleep a night have the same testosterone level as men a decade older. Aside from that, we all need adequate rest for repair, memory, immunity and our sanity. So switch off Netflix and get into bed! In fact, try and ban all screens from the bedroom. If youíre wondering how on earth you will wake up in the morning, then buy an actual alarm clock ó they do still exist!
I hope that helps! Looking forward to lots of November babies! Have a great weekend one and all.
Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram