Our diets can affect many aspects of our lives, including our mental health. The food we put into our bodies should fuel us and power our bodies in the most beneficial ways. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Science has linked food and mental health for quite some time. Although food is not the only answer in regards to mental health, it is part of the puzzle. Natural, whole foods are the best options for our bodies. They are therefore also the best options for our mental health. Balanced and stable emotions begin with a balanced, healthy diet.
A balanced diet is a lifestyle choice, it is not a fad diet to lose weight or gain muscle. It is an overall healthy approach to life. A balanced diet should be rich in whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Everyone should avoid highly processed and highly sugared foods. Our body works at its best with a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These do not come from processed, packaged foods. They come from fresh, whole foods.
Serotonin is a natural chemical within our bodies that controls our appetite, emotions, mood, ability to sleep, and capacity to inhibit pain. The majority of the serotonin in our bodies is produced by our gastrointestinal tract. This means every piece of food that passes through our body may affect our mood. When we fill our bodies with nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, our gastrointestinal tract functions well and efficiently. Unfortunately, if we fill our bodies with highly processed sugars and fats, our gastrointestinal tract works poorly and we may even experience stomach pain or worse, uncomfortable symptoms. These feelings will eventually transfer to our thoughts, emotions, and overall mood. Ultimately, every piece of food we consume may affect our mental health in the long run.
I always encourage all of my clients to live the healthiest lifestyle possible, in whichever way is the most appropriate for them. This begins with food. Buy fresh, whole foods from the supermarket or farmer’s market. Cook your own food! Cooking at home often has a de-stressing and positive effect on your life. By cooking your own meals, you will decrease the amount of processed food, sugars, and fat consumed. For a healthy lifestyle, I recommend staying hydrated with water and limiting your consumption of highly caffeinated drinks and alcoholic drinks. And, stay active, get outside to walk, run, exercise at the gym, or swim. Always keep these three factors in mind: eat fresh whole foods, stay hydrated, and be active. It is worth making these changes to your lifestyle because your diet will affect your mental health for the long term.
Let’s discuss how we can improve your diet and in turn, your mental health. As previously discussed, your diet is only one piece of the equation. Together, we can figure out what works the best for you in therapy, in your personal life, and how to improve your overall mental health. Please do not hesitate to call or visit my office in Hermosa Beach for more information or to schedule your next appointment. I look forward to hearing from you soon!