Community book club aims to increase mental health awareness |

Community book club aims to increase mental health awareness

If you’ve ever wondered why you feel sluggish at 10 a.m. or why your anxiety skyrockets later in the day, there’s an answer to that — and it might surprise you. This is the focus of a new community book club hosted at Dusky Grouse Coffee in Steamboat Springs by owner Stephany Traylor.

The book club — which will take place in four series — will discuss Uma Naidoo’s book “This Is Your Brain on Food,” breaking the book down and studying multiple chapters at a time. Discussion will be led by Natural Grocers nutritional health coach Courtney Vantubbergen.

“Nutrition and brain health is really the whole point of the book,” Vantubbergen said. “It illustrates the relationship between food and mood. It breaks down specific issues, like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and shows how specific foods can support your brain when you’re dealing with things like that. I think this will help people gain a deeper understanding of why they feel the way they feel after eating certain things.”

Traylor, who opened Dusky Grouse Coffee in May, has long been interested in raising awareness about mental health within the community. This book club, she said, is one way to go about doing that.

If you go

What: Community book club featuring “This Is Your Brain on Food”

Where: Dusky Grouse Coffee, 1585 Mid-Valley Drive, Unit 4

When: First session 11 a.m. to noon Nov. 21; subsequent sessions will be at the same time Dec. 5, Dec. 19 and Jan. 2

For more: Sign up with any barista at Dusky Grouse or email Stephany Traylor at

“I think my general approach when opening Dusky Grouse was to find ways to support the mental health community,” Traylor said. “When there is any kind of tragedy in town, it seems like we all talk about it in the wake of the tragedy, and then, it goes quiet. I want to focus on it in a proactive way.”

Her mission is to create a safe, sober space for youth and adults alike, where they can feel a sense of community and be surrounded by like-minded people. When she reached out to Vantubbergen for health inspiration and recipe ideas that she could incorporate into her menu at the coffee shop, the two decided to partner up to bring this health-minded book club to the community.

The first meeting will take place at 11 a.m. Nov. 21. Vantubbergen will guide the conversation. Small samples of food or drinks that support the ideas from the book will be offered during each session. For the first session, guests will try golden milk, a warm drink made with turmeric, which is an ingredient that plays a large role in healthy inflammatory response, Vantubbergen said.

“Mental health and brain health are tied to inflammation,” she explained. “There are so many studies showing links between mental health and well-being and inflammation.”

Participants do not need to have read the book to join the first meeting, but rather, they are encouraged to read the book throughout the series, as four chapters at a time will be discussed at each meeting.

“Our goal is to create a supportive space for our community where we can openly talk about the importance of mental health and how we can positively impact our own mental health through food, drinks and community,” Traylor said.

Copies of “This Is Your Brain on Food” can be checked out of the library or purchased at Dusky Grouse Coffee or Natural Grocers.

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