Diet and Mental Health

Diet and mental health

Eating well is important. It’s part of life. It’s part of a routine. Here are 7 tips on how to eat well, whether to keep yourself healthy and feeling good, or to help with mental health issues you are facing.

1. Mindful eating

If you concentrate on what you’re eating, you’ll probably eat more healthily. For example, people who eat while watching television tend to eat too much at one sitting.

Practising mindfulness and being aware of what you are doing has its own benefits.

2. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important. Bananas, spinach, almonds, cherries and fish can all help you sleep better. Try to have your main meal 2 to 3 hours before bed. If you’re hungry, a piece of fruit or a glass of milk is the best bedtime snack.

3. Think fish

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are good for your mental health. You get them in oily fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, perch, herring and sardines. Two to 3 meals a week of oily fish will provide enough omega-3. You can also try white fish, such as cod, bass, haddock and snapper.

4. Drink water

Drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration. Mild dehydration can make you irritable. Learn more about the importance of hydration and drinking water.

5. Healthy food swaps

It can be easier to make small changes than big changes. They’re more likely to stick. Swap white breads for wholegrain breads. Swap the frying pan for the grill. Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts. Think of healthy food swaps.

6. Go easy on the alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant. While it can make you feel good for a while, drinking too much alcohol can affect your mental and physical health. If you are taking antidepressant medication, alcohol interferes with how well the medication works. If you drink alcohol, it’s best to drink in moderation.

7. Go easy on yourself

Change doesn't usually happen overnight. Take small steps to improve your diet, make changes and practice positive self talk. Some of those changes will be easy, others will be harder. You’ll stick with some, and not stick with others. In time, they will become healthy eating habits that come naturally.

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Last reviewed: July 2019

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