Nutritionist Belinda Blake, who studied at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, recommends foraging as the perfect hobby and antidote to stress
Motivated to study nutrition in response to her own health problems, she has become a keen forager who believes in the power of natural immunity to re-balance and re-focus the mind and body.
“During the last year we have all become more aware of how beneficial the great outdoors and nature is to our wellbeing and mental health,” she says.
“With many following this trend, whether by growing their own vegetables, going for long walks exploring their local countryside or simply enjoying flowers on a windowsill, it’s important as we start to return to normality to maintain this new-found appreciation.
“With the impact of the pandemic, together with mixed emotions as we ease out of lockdown, there has never been a more important time to look after our mental wellbeing and being outdoors and in nature is known to help alleviate stress.
“One trend which is becoming more popular is foraging, along with getting in touch with our natural immunity, and with the summer months approaching, now is the ideal time to explore these further.
There are many benefits to foraging for our mental health and wellbeing including:
- A calming influence – Simply being outdoors in the sun and fresh air calms down our stress response. After so much time living in our own heads and indoor spaces, foraging is an incredibly grounding and calming hobby.
- Natural aromatherapy – Nature provides its own aromatherapy with the phytoncides (essential oils) produced by evergreen trees and the oak which has been shown to decrease stress hormones and increase NK cells, which are crucial for immune support.
- Positive vibes – Foraging helps to engage more with the environment and seasons and at this time of year and helps to invoke feelings of hope and renewal as we head towards the warmer, summer months ahead.
- Nature’s pantry – Foraging provides access to really fresh (and free!) food, which is full of nutrients and vitality to help support both immune and mental health.
“May is a beautiful time of year to forage. It’s a time filled with hope and expectancy and this year more than ever, we will all feel the benefits of being out in the great outdoors and feeling the positive benefits of nature and foraging on our health and wellbeing.
“Why not see if there are any foraging classes near where you live or, alternatively, invest in a good wild plant identification guide to help get you going and pick safely?”
Six plants to forage for this May
- Garlic Mustard
- Ransoms (wild garlic)
- Elderflower (from late May)
For more foraging tips from Belinda, visit her website