We all know that eating healthy has huge benefits for our physical health, but did you know that it can also effect our mood and mental health?
Studies run by the Food & Mood Centre found that eating a healthy diet can actually decrease symptoms of depression.
However, it’s quite the viscous cycle! Low mood = cravings for bad / convenient food choices.
It’s easy when you are feeling flat to reach for comfort food like chocolate and potato chips (and eat the whole damn thing!) … which only leaves you feeling flatter!
When you’re feeling average, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is spending a lot of time preparing healthy food!
But evidence now shows that processed foods, and foods full of sugar and salt can actually exacerbate negative symptoms of anxiety and depression and cause damage and inflammation within the body, so it is super important to take care of yourself – especially when you aren’t feeling your best.
So where do you start??
Our levels of serotonin – or the happiness chemical, contributes to our levels happiness and wellbeing. Science has now shown that around 95% of our serotonin is actually produced in our gut – not our brain! All of the cells and neurotransmitters that live in the gut are supported (or not supported) by the quality of food we eat, and the balance of our gut microbiome.
Which helps us to understand why the health of our gut is so important to our mental health!
Making better food choices sounds easy – but when you are feeling low it can seem a lot harder…
But I want to assure you that it doesn’t have to be difficult!
Start by incorporating more healthy fats – such as olive oil or fish oil, plenty of rainbow fruits & vegetables, wholegrains – such as brown rice or pasta, nuts & seeds, fermented foods – such as sauerkraut or natural yoghurt- and most importantly plenty of fresh water each day!
Try to avoid processed, sugary foods and depressants such as alcohol.
You can find more information around which foods can boost your mood here.
We are more likely to make poor food choices when we are operating in autopilot – and it’s super easy to develop bad habits when we are in this space! e.g. over eating when emotional, or eating a whole packet of Tim Tams at 10pm (may or may not be personal examples.)🤦♀️
Mindful eating is the practice of slowing down and bringing your awareness to the food that’s in-front of you.
Before you eat – ask yourself:
Why do I want to eat this food right now?
Is eating this food going to nourish my body and mind?
& How will I feel after I’ve eaten this?
The idea is that by bringing your awareness to your eating habits, you can begin to recognise which foods are not serving you, and be in the position to make better food choices to support your mental health and wellbeing.
You can find some fantastic science-based mindful eating exercises and ideas right here.
Preparation is Key
Set yourself up for success!
- Create a meal plan each week so that you have the ingredients on hand at home
- Cook in bulk and freeze leftovers for busy days – also cooking extra for lunches is a great idea
- Buy frozen vegetables
- Prepare your snacks the night before
- Get the whole family involved so that you have some support
- Try to have less junk food in the house
- And most of all, be kind to yourself!!
Remember that your motivation for eating well should not be about punishment or deprivation – it should be about cultivating kindness and compassion for that amazing body & mind of yours! 💚💙💜