Food and Mood – how to eat well to better your mental health
With only a few minutes on Breakfast TV recently, here is the bigger picture of what you need to know that I didn’t get to chat about in the interview below:
- Aiming for a Mediterranean way of eating is the best thing you can do for your mental wellbeing – whole foods, plenty of veg, minimally processed carbs (try opting for oats, brown rice and starchy veg) and more oily fish. Not rocket science I know. Sorry, no magic bullet here.
- Your GUT is basically your second brain! There is a nerve (vagus nerve) that runs between your brain and your gut which sends messages from one to the other. Do you get butterflies in your ‘stomach’ when you are nervous? Need to go to the bathroom just before an exam or running a race? That’s why! The way you feel can impact your gut and vice versa.
- Doing what you can to looking after your gut is well worth it! As well as having a positive impact on your immune system and having the potential to impact your weight, it can also help when it comes to mood too. Plus, a healthy gut means better absorption of nutrients. What is the point in guzzling down lots of supplements if you aren’t first and foremost absorbing the goodness from your food? www.healthyfood.com/advice/gut-and-mood-the-surprising-connections.
- Inside your gut, you basically have an ecosystem called the microbiome. There are good and bad bacteria in there and we need to do what we can to have more of the goodies and less of the bad boys. www.healthyfood.com/advice/gut-and-mood-the-surprising-connections.
- Having more FIBRE is one of the best things you can do for your gut, it keeps the good bacteria fed and happy!! In NZ on average we have around 20g of fibre a day, but women need a good 28g and men need 38g…so, time to boost it! Here are some ideas how: www.healthyfood.com/resource/get-more-fibre-at-every-meal.
- Up your veg!! As I said in the interview, our intakes in NZ overall are not so ace. At this time of year, making a batch of soup every couple of days/week is a fantastic way to get more veg, and ideally some lentil/chickpeas or other pulses too. You will find lots of cheap recipes here on my blog – many less than $1.50 a serve.
- Focus on the QUALITY of your carbs – there is such a fear and misunderstanding around carbs. It is about the TYPES you have and the amount.
- Give fermented foods a whirl – introducing foods that have good bacteria in them may be a helpful step for you. Kimchi, Sauerkraut and yoghurt with live cultures are all worth a go. www.healthyfood.com/advice/the-truth-about-fermented-foods/.
- Are there things you might be falling short on that could be having an impact on your mental wellbeing? Iron? Magnesium? Omega 3? Here is some information on that – www.healthyfood.com/advice/nutritional-deficiency-and-mental-health/.
KNOWING all this and making it happen I appreciate are two separate things. I am pretty sure if you follow my FB page and/or read my blogs here you are already interested in health, and that you know that eating Tim Tams all evening after a stressful day or drinking gin/wine most nights of the week isn’t going to make you feel more awesome and happier in the long term, but by default as human beings, it is normal to do what feels good right now.
So, this is about MAKING IT HAPPEN which is mostly about finding NEW ways to manage your stresses and pressures that don’t involve food and drink, and also creating new routines to support healthy behaviours – like making soup EVERY Wednesday and Sunday and/or exercising everyday at a SET time, even if its only for 5 minutes, to make it a habit.
As you may or may not know, mental health is a topic VERY close to my heart. I struggled with depression for many years and was on medication of 7 of those. I also had horrific post natal anxiety with both my children and also psychosis with my last child.
I know food can only do so much, sleep plays a HUGE part, as does being active, your exposure to natural light and managing your thinking, but it all works together like a puzzle and every little gain makes a difference!
MORE HELP IF YOU NEED: If you need any personalised advice on nutrition, my team at Mission Nutrition are there to help. We have expert Dietitians and Nutritionists who can help you (via phone/Skype at the moment) with any health issues you are struggling with, to improve your mood, help in overcoming emotion/dysfunctional behaviour/binge eating or whatever challenge you may be currently facing. My team are my second family and they are just awesome. www.missionnutrition.co.nz.