How Nutrition can support mental health
How nutrition can support your mental health
Today is World Mental Health Day
As someone who lives with anxiety and depression, I know first-hand how important nutrition plays a role in living a happy and healthy lifestyle in mind and body.
Anxiety and depression really made their presence in my life five years ago. It was not until I started getting professional help that I realised that it had always been apart, of me.
Over the years I have had periods of where my health has been good and times when things have been a struggle.
When I am anxious and stressed, I am drawn to foods that are high in fat and sugar. I also have periods where I binge eat. This is an over consuming of comfort foods at high speeds and I don’t even really taste them. I have been working on this area of own journey and have made some great progress.
Where would you say you are finding difficulty when it comes to your nutrition? Do you feel that your anxiety or depression is affected by the foods you eat?
I am currently reading the book “Brain Changer” by Professor Felice Jacka who leads the field of Nutritional Psychiatry research having suffered depression and anxiety as a young woman. Through her research Professor Jacka has been able to understand the role of nutrition in our overall mental and brain health.
I have recently come across the fact that mental health is linked to gut health. By improving and increasing the healthy gut bacteria called microbiota it promotes brain health and also helps us to keep our weight in check.
Back in the summer, I invested in having an intolerance blood test which showed that I have an intolerance to dairy products. Within a week of switching to non-dairy alternatives I felt and saw a vast improvement in my overall wellbeing from my skin, to clearer thinking (no more brain fog) my energy had increased too, and I felt much happier within myself. If you think it is possible that you may have intolerance I would recommend going to your doctor or finding a professional who specialises in these tests and get checked.
Now I am not one for making huge vast changes in one go unless it is under the advice and supervision of a medical professional.
I do know that making small changes will add up a big difference over time.
Let’s look at the basics of health:
Mindset is an important factor when starting to create lifestyle changes and where you will see true shifts in your health.
One of the most important things that I have found from my own journey and which I hope will help you is to believe and trust that you can make changes. Your life will not change overnight but with time and creating new habits you will get to a point where everything will come together, and you will see the results of your work.
Research shows it takes 21 days to change a habit. Although I believe that to be the case when you have ingrained habits it may take longer, and I would ask that you have patience with yourself and your body.
This is where Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has really helped me throughout my journey since discovering it and using it myself. I qualified as an EFT practitioner in November 2018 after using it to help me to decrease my anxiety and depression. My own opinion is that you can never fully get rid of anxiety or depression, but you will find a way of living with it without it being at the forefront of your daily life.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT also known as Tapping) can be used for anxiety, depression, limiting beliefs, weight loss, mindset and so much more.
Are you drinking enough water? When we go into a state of dehydration our brain has to work that much harder. When we drink more, we help our brain to function more clearly and at a faster rate.
The science shows that getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep really supports our bodies and our mental health. It is when we are sleeping that our body is able to rest, and repair. In a world when we have technology at our fingertips and always having to be “switched on” people are more increasingly finding it difficult to switch off and get the recommend zzz’s.
Why not try removing all electronic devices from your bedroom. I personally have done this the last few weeks and have seen an improvement in my own sleep and would highly recommend it.
I also recommend reading the book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker it is a fascinating written by a neuroscientist who is passionate about sleep and who wants to help the world to have better sleep.
Now you can be two camps when it comes to movement because some people find that it really helps them to work out whilst for others it is not effective. Like anything when it comes to our health and wellbeing you need to do what works for you and your body.
For the people that believe movement does or would help I would encourage you to try adding activity into your day. Now, I am not saying that you need to be a dedicated gym bunny. Getting out for a walk can be a place where you can start, if you do like the gym strength training in particular not only helps your physical body but the movements you are carrying out helps you to focus and stay in the moment. There are many other activities, you could try and implement into our daily routine.
When it comes to nutrition a balanced healthy eating plan where no food groups (Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals) or foods that are demonised with the labels of “good” or “bad”.
I live by the 80/20 rule of 80% of meal being made up of nutritious foods and the other 20% on something more fanciful. The fancy food will look different to all us it could be sweet or savoury or something else.
My eating has changed for the better using this approach it has helped me over a period of time to reduce food cravings, my binging episodes have significantly reduced and are more occasional than a frequent thing I do.
In order to help you get started to make small changes I have listed below foods that support good mental health and overall nutrition:
- Yogurt – the more natural the better (Greek yogurt);
- Tinned or fresh fish; salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines.
- Legumes, lentils, chickpeas and beans (dried or canned);
- Vegetables – fresh or frozen
- Fruits; in particular berries for their antioxidant properties;
- Nuts; although be careful not to eat too many of them as they are high in fat and over consumption can lead to weight gain
- Extra virgin olive oil.
If you would like support in making lifestyle changes for your health and wellbeing feel free to connect with me by email, Facebook or Instagram. The links are below.
I also run a free Facebook Group called Power of 3 HQ which you can join by clicking on the link below:
I look forward to connecting and supporting you in your journey.