Does my food affect my mental wellbeing?

Yes! Most of us are aware of how what we eat affects our physical health. However, research has highlighted that the food we consume can also affect our mental health and wellbeing.

At present, there are no single foods or nutrients that can prevent the development of specific mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

However, there is a growing body of evidence which indicates that having a varied and balanced diet rich and fruits in vegetables, lean protein, vitamins and minerals and good fats can enhance our mood, increase our energy levels and help regulate our thoughts and feelings.

So, it turns out that whilst our thoughts and mood can influence food choices, the nutritional value of our food can also affect how our brains function and impact our mood and mental wellbeing.  

With food affecting your mood, it is important to consider the nutritional choices you are making.

Read on for our top tips on how to boost your wellbeing with healthy food choices.

What food should I be eating to boost my mental wellbeing?

Eat regularly

Eating regularly will help to regulate your blood sugar levels and deliver your body with a steady flow of calories to sustain you throughout the day.

Concentrate on eating low glycaemic (low GI), slow-releasing carbohydrates to prevent sharp spikes in your blood sugar levels.

This is important as if your blood sugar decreases it can leave you feeling tired, irritable and depressed.

Fill your glass full

It's important to try and drink 1.5-2 litres a day. Not drinking enough can greatly impact your mood and ability to think clearly and concentrate. Not to mention that dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue and tiredness!

Make sure to choose your drink wisely. Attempt to limit caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as these can enhance feelings of anxiety and depression and may impact appetite.

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Eat good fats

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) are essential to keep the brain working well. Therefore, rather than cutting out fats completely, it is crucial to focus instead on eating the beneficial ones.

Fish, poultry, nuts, olives, seeds and avocados are just some of the good sources of essential fats you can eat. To find out more about good fats, check out the Help Guide’s blog on choosing healthy fats.

Get in the protein 

Getting enough protein is crucial to maintaining a positive brain function as protein contains amino acids, which formulate the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings.

Good sources of protein include lead meat, eggs, cheese, soy products along with peas, beans and lentils.

Have your 5-a-day

Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day will help to provide you with the minerals, vitamins and fibre you need to help keep you both physically and mentally fit.

Eat a variety of colours and types each day will ensure that you get a good range of nutrients- to make even more nutritious don’t over boil them.

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Further reading

Food & Childhood Mental Health

What to eat to make you feel better inside