“My psychologist encouraged me to shop and cook for myself, instead of buying takeaways. I’m eating better than I was and started walking every day, 4km or more sometimes. What with working part-time and having a cat too, my life has improved dramatically.”
Your brain needs a lot of nutrients to function and keep you well. Eating well helps to reduce the risk of physical health problems like heart disease and diabetes. It also helps with sleeping patterns, energy levels, and your general health.
You may have noticed that your mood often affects the types of food you choose, as well as how much you eat. Some foods can lift your mood, energy levels, and concentration, while others can have the opposite effect.
For example, eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can reduce your risk of some mental health conditions such as depression, while eating foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat may increase your risk.
Having a healthy, balanced diet plays an important role in your overall health and wellbeing. Your GP can direct you to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can give you face-to-face support. Getting in touch with other people who have had challenges with healthy eating may also give you ideas on how to overcome your own challenges and improve your eating habits.
A closer look
Eating a 'rainbow' provides a healthy range of nutrients
It’s beneficial to eat a range of different coloured fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, lean protein, and sources of dairy or dairy substitutes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Vegetable oils such as sunflower or olive oil are healthy options to fulfill your body’s need for fats. (Source)
Healthy eating is important for people living with mental illness
Food can play an important role in maintaining your health, improving your mood, and giving you an overall sense of wellbeing. Eating a selection of foods that meet your daily nutritional needs can help you improve your overall health and lead a healthy lifestyle. It can also help people with depression, anxiety, and other related disorders. (Source)
The gut has its own nervous system and gut health can affect mood
An irritated gut sends signals to the brain that can affect mood, thinking skills, and memory. Listen to your gut. Your nervous system and gut may be wired to react to certain foods, and you may feel better if you avoid them. (Source)
What we eat can affect how we feel
The global food industry has changed the way we eat. While we understand how these dietary changes have affected our physical health, their effects on mental health and wellbeing is only now being realised. Research shows that people whose daily food intake includes more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. are less likely to experience depression. (Source 1) (Source 2)
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).