Today marks the end of Nutrition and Hydration Week. Your diet can have a lot of effects on your body, but most importantly for us at Dr Julian, it can have a massive effect on your mental health.
How can diet help my mental health?
People who struggle with many forms of mental health problems often report symptoms such as tiredness, lack of self-esteem, over/undereating alongside many more. While these symptoms are heavily associated with mental health conditions, there’s a lot that diet can do to help keep them manageable. Here are just a few examples of how changes to your diet can help boost your mood!
Being tired is not fun! It can prevent you for doing many things from going to work to socialising with friends (both very important aspects of life). However, it may be possible to increase your energy levels with small changes to your diet.
Iron is a mineral that all humans need and a lack of it in the diet can lead to extreme tiredness. Iron can be found in meat, beans, nuts, wholegrains, most breakfast cereals and dark leafy vegetables just to name a few! Iron supplements can also be purchased from most pharmacies.
Having a balanced diet can also help with low energy levels. Processed or fast food is often quick to make, tasty and satisfying. Individuals struggling with mental health often gravitate towards these foods, whether it be because of lack of energy to make fresh food, lack of interest in food or other reasons. However, processed and fast foods are usually very low in nutrients and lead consumers to feel bloated, heavy and tired! By switching to a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, you’d be surprised at the boost in energy that comes with it!
TOP TIP: When cooking, batch cook items like pasta sauce, curries and stews. Put excess food into containers and freeze for a later date. This will save both time and money and will give the convenience of fast food with the nutrition of fresh food.
It’s not uncommon for people struggling with mental health conditions to over/under-eat. A general disinterest in food often leads to a lack of routine when it comes to meals and replacing set meals with snacking (whether the snacking is limited or excessive). Your body likes routine in a lot of aspects of life such as sleep and food.
TOP TIP: Try eating three meals a day, every day for 7 days. Try to eat foods that are nutrient rich and make sure the meals are of a standard size while leave the snacks in the cupboard. Your body will thank you for giving it a set routine and you should start to feel hungry approaching meal times and satisfied in between.
Many people don’t like certain parts of their bodies, it’s normal. However, these feels can often be accentuated in individuals with mental health conditions. A healthy diet can help individuals to feel better about themselves and can help to boost self-confidence.
This being said, there are some conditions where diet can be used in a way that can harm the individual. If you notice damaging dietary behaviours in yourself or others, such as restricting food, disappearing to the toilet after eating or any other behaviours that you are worried about, please contact someone who can help. We are here to support you no matter what.