Food for thought: Mental Health Awareness Week


18-24th May is Mental Health Awareness Week and we’re pretty sure you’d agree with us that 2020 is a very unique and trying time for all of us. Mental health couldn’t be a more talked about topic at the moment if we tried and that’s why it’s so important that we stay on top of it.

One way to help combat any negative feelings we have is through our nutrition. It’s been proven that there’s a connection between nutrition and mental health, but knowing what to eat and how it can make you feel is another ball game all together. We’ve put together some helpful hints on how to manage your mood with food.

The hanger games
We’ve all heard the term ‘hangry’ – a mixture of hungry and angry combined to define a person who needs food now! It’s such a well known term that it’s even made its way into the Cambridge Dictionary.

People often get ‘hangry’ when their blood sugar drops, which can spiral into a bad mood and inevitably a sabotage situation. To provoke that feeling from taking over, ensure to eat at least three meals a day. Missing meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this causes low mood, irritability and fatigue. If you feel peckish between meals you may need to include a healthy snack, like nuts or fruit.

Brain food
Another trick is keeping your brain healthy with Omega 3 and 6. These essential fatty acids have been scientifically linked to improving your mood and fighting off feelings of depression. We’re not talking about crisps and chocolate, because granted, these aren’t great for you (or your mood), however, eating things like avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish and cheese can continue to keep your brain active.

Protein perfection
Proteins are filled with amino acids. Amino acids are used in the body to balance the thoughts in your brain and stop your going way off kilter. They’re easy to incorporate into meals too – eggs, lean meats (turkey, chicken), fish, beans, lentils and soya products are all types of protein.

Cup of Joe
Hands up who loves a brew in the morning? I think we can safely say we’re a nation of caffeine-addicts, however, caffeine is a stimulant so it gives you a burst of energy followed by a sudden drop in mood. Try to limit your dosage of caffeine or switch to decaf to keep your mood in tip top shape.

Exploring the outside
It’s not just food that can help shape our mood. Grabbing some time (even if it’s 10 minutes) to do a walk, run or some kick ups can be the difference between experiencing a low mood vs ending the day on a high. Dedicate that time to yourself, or block it out in your calendar just like you would a work meeting. It’s your time for you.

Of course it’s not all about food. It’s speaking with friends, confiding in family and staying motivated. All these things contribute to your overall mental wellbeing, and remember, we’re all here to support one another.

If you’re finding that you’re feeling low and need support, it’s worth going to see your GP or contacting the mental health charity, Mind. Getting help can make a world of difference, so don’t struggle in silence.

And don’t forget, MAN v FAT members have access to our SilverCloud platform, to guide you through your mental health questions and give you the support you need.

Sources

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3#section1
  2. https://www.foodforthebrain.org/nutrition-solutions/depression/action-plan-for-overcoming-depression.aspx
  3. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mood/about-food-and-mood/

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