Healthy Eating & Our Mental Health
Many of us are aware of the positive benefits of following a balanced diet and exercising regularly to help keep our bodies feeling good, but it can also have positive impacts on our mental health too. Our lifestyles, and the foods we eat can play an important part in our mental health and overall wellbeing. BNF Healthy Eating Week is coming up and it runs from the 14-18th June, where their main aim is to take the whole of the UK on its 'Find your healthier you' journey!
Story time: As a long time, sufferer of stomach issues, eating a nutritious balanced diet has always been something I have been aware of. Back in the early days, test after test with no positive outcome on results, the pain I was feeling on almost a daily basis was having a negative effect on me overall. Enough was enough, it was time to act. Many food diaries later and after cutting out certain foods over many years, nothing was really helping, so I took it upon myself to make a change, a lifestyle change. Regular exercise, and a balanced diet, bad foods included, it is true what the professionals say, everything is good in moderation. I started to have a better understanding and have grown much more aware of healthy eating and the importance of exercise, leading to an overall better version of myself.
Exploring different recipes and food can be fun, but if I am completely honest, I was never much of a whiz in the kitchen. During lockdown and with us all being at home (a lot) more I spent extra time experimenting with food to create delicious dishes (confidence is key). That’s not to say all the food I cooked was nourishingly super good food, there was some healthy and some not so healthy (gotta treat yo-self), but I found a new respect for food. I found that cooking and eating fresh had a massive impact on the way I felt overall, not only did I feel more satisfied as I had spent the time making it from fresh, but also my body felt good for it. What we put into our bodies really does have so many positive impacts on our mental health and overall well-being - below I have found some helpful information on why, have a read and hopefully it can help you in one way or another.
To be able to feed our bodies with the goodness it needs for our health and well-being we need to understand the ‘why’ and the science behind it. Studies have even found that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many people who experience mental health problems and low mood want to take control of their mental health using a self-help approach. The foods you eat play a role in keeping your brain and body healthy.
4 ways to improve your diet to help with your overall well-being and mental health:
· Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated - staying hydrated is vital to our physical and mental health, allowing our bodies and minds to function properly.
· Make sure you get enough protein - protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings.
· Having the right fats - fats play a role in brain health as they are structural components of brain cell membranes and influence the functioning of the brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important to brain and body health (an added bonus fats also keep skin soft – winning!).
· Eat as regularly as you can - when you stick to a diet of healthy food and eating regularly, you are setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus.
· Plan ahead (this is my personal #toptip) – plan your weekly meals ahead of time, you’re less likely to have constant cheat days if you already know what you’ll be eating.
Improving your diet may help to:
· Improve your mood.
· Give you more energy.
· Help you think more clearly.
Research has also shown another key benefit to the wellbeing kit of life for food and overall happiness… is sharing food with others. There are many psychological, social, and biological benefits of eating meals with other people.
There is joy that can be found in social connection when sharing foods with loved ones, certain tastes or smells evoke feelings of nostalgia from childhood or maybe a holiday. Eating together gives us a sense of rhythm and regularity in our lives, a chance to reflect on the day, whilst feeling connected with others it helps to improve our mental health.
In summary, it makes sense to give your body higher-quality fuel which makes it work better head to toe, physically and mentally. So regardless of whether you decide to make a big or small change… bon appétit x