We all know about stress eating/eating our feelings, so it’s common knowledge that people can slip into bad eating habits when their mental health is suffering. What you eat can absolutely impact your mental health. For example, there’s a reason why we have labels like “comfort food,” which can lift our moods.
When you’re feeling depressed, stressed, upset . . . turning to junk food will most likely result in making you feel worse, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve. Your body is connected to your mind, so eating the right foods can help boost your body, brain, and ultimately, mental health.
Generally speaking, the type of diet that is best for your health is a version of the Meditirranean diet: one that’s rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, legumes, olive oil, and limited in red meat. If you’re interested in a more specific diet, like paleo, vegan, etc., that’s fine as well. Studies have shown that diets with a higher amount of fish and vegetables in particular have been linked to better cognitive function.
Vitamins and minerals that keep your brain healthy and active: vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Additionally, avoid added sugars. Added sugars will often result in your energy crashing and most likely your mood as well. Instead, eat fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars along with the fiber that can help you digest it properly without the blood sugar spike and crash of food that contain added sugars.
Staying away from caffeine and alcohol is also a good idea. Although both might make you feel better in the moment, they eventually end up doing you more harm than good, like disrupting your sleep cycles and as a result, making you groggy and possibly dehydrated the next day.
Speaking of dehydration, always remember to drink water! Staying hydrated improves your physical and mental health (which may be a surprise to some), specifically depression and anxiety, as studies have shown).
If you’re eating bad or overeating, you often feel sluggish and lethargic, not to mention the guilt or associated negative thoughts connected to bad eating habits. If you struggle to stay away from junk food when you’re feeling down, my advice is to keep it out of your apartment/house/whatever. The easier something is for you to access, the more likely it is you’ll reach for it. Cleaning up your diet can result in a cleaner, happier mind.