Eating Well and Mental Wellbeing

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All this week, Pillar Kincardine have been telling us about issues important to them. Over the next couple of days, we look at how your diet and what you listen to can effect your mental health…

 

 

What does eating well mean? Broadly speaking it means eating in a way that:

  • Keeps our weight stable
  • Provides all the necessary food groups and vitamins
  • Is an enjoyable experience

Why is eating well important?

It helps to prevent many diseases which are linked with being overweight. Diseases include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer, joint problems and sleep difficulties. Eating well also nourishes our brain so we feel better emotionally.

Eating is essential for sustaining our lives, keeping healthy and preventing disease but most of us struggle to eat what we need and battle with eating what we want and what makes us feel better emotionally.  We tend to eat if we are sad, lonely or hurt but equally if we want to celebrate success or as a reward. Attempting to change our eating habits is much more than just learning the facts it’s about making good choices every day which is easier said than done. Understanding why healthy eating is so important and looking at the benefits of certain foods helps on this journey.

It’s also useful to look deeper into why food has such a powerful hold on us and why despite increased knowledge and understanding we continue in this self-sabotaging behaviour. The reasons are probably different for all of us however it is widely understood that low self-esteem and learned behaviours has a lot to do with it. Although this article will not look into this in any detail it is worth mentioning at this stage.

Before going into the details of what a healthy diet looks like it is worth discussing the triggers for making bad choices in our diet. It’s always good to stop and put some distance between the feeling and the action so this useful acronym may help: halt1

HALT

H = Hungry – When did I last eat? Is my hunger emotional or does my body need food? If your body is asking for food, find something nutritious to snack on – don’t eat empty calories – choose something to benefit your body and brain!

A = Angry – What are you dealing with right now that is stressful? Is the stress what’s making you angry? Find out why you’re angry and find ways to diffuse that anger

L = Lonely – When is the last time you socialized? Was it a positive or negative experience? Reach out to your support system. Let them help you.

T = Tired – Have I been getting enough rest and giving my body the breaks it needs? How can you energize yourself? Take some time to yourself and relax.

(Taken from the website: recovery is beautiful.tumblr.com)

What does a healthy diet look like?

A healthy diet consists of the right amount and types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

What carbohydrates should I eat? Try to eat those with a low glycaemic index. Good Carbs include fruits, vegetables, and legumes such as beans, pasta, brown rice, basmati rice, whole meal bread and potatoes.

Which Fats should I eat? Try to eat unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, seeds and nuts. These need to be eaten in moderation. Try to use skimmed and semi skimmed mild instead of whole milk products. Omega 3 fats are good and may help to keep us mentally more stable. This can be found in oily fish such as cod, salmon, and mackerel. They can also be found in flax seed and walnuts.

Which proteins should I eat? Try to eat a varied diet of proteins which provide you with a source of essential amino acids. Try to stick to lean protein options such as fish, lean meat, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk or dairy products and whole grains and pulses.

It is also essential to drink plenty of the right fluids. Examples of low calorie good choices would be: water, de-caffeinated tea/coffee (without sugar), and skimmed milk. Try to avoid alcohol, sugar-sweetened drinks, and shop bought smoothies.

Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals can affect the way you feel. The PDF below shows which foods can improve the way you feel and can also be found on the mind website.

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mood/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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