The Connection Between Mental Health and Your Diet

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Self-care is more than face masks and bubble baths. Of course, nothing beats relaxing with the perfect cup of coffee in bed or finally buying yourself that one thing in your online shopping cart that you keep adding and removing. But, it doesn’t have to only be an hour long activity, self-care can become an everyday practice when you focus on balance.

The goal of self-care activities are two-fold: working on mental and physical well-being. Both can be targeted separately, but neither can truly thrive if the other is on a decline. Self-care, as a balanced lifestyle, combines both mental and physical health; it is making a long-term investment in yourself. And, it can start in a place as familiar as your kitchen.

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Does the Food I eat Really Impact My Mental Health?

The food that you eat actually has a significant effect on your mood and, by extension, mental health. Your body breaks down every single bite of food, taking any nutrients that it can use and then turning it into energy to keep itself functioning properly. The nutrients pulled from the food is then transferred all throughout your body including to the most important organ, your brain.

The brain, being mission control for the body, requires a lot of nutrients to function properly, using about 20% of the body’s total energy, daily. If the brain gets too much or not enough of what it needs, both the body and the brain won’t be able to function to their best ability; excesses and/or deficits can result in feelings of depression, anxiousness, decreased energy, headaches, or even sleep and memory problems.

To counteract those feelings, however, there are certain types of foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and foods with high protein content that help to increase the brain’s productivity and have a positive influence on moods. Incorporating these foods regularly will help to add more nutrition to diets and create a sense of balance in eating overall.

It’s important to remember that a balanced diet means something different for each person. Investing in a balanced diet doesn’t have to be excessive or expensive, and it doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods either. Like the name implies, it’s about balance, not restriction. Beginning can be as simple as just checking in with yourself as you eat. Paying more attention to the types and amounts of food that you eat can help you understand how those foods make you feel, keeping in mind that the food you consume is the fuel that your body and brain will use. What you choose to eat will directly affect your mood and energy levels.

Making improvements in both your physical and mental health is no small feat. But creating balanced eating habits allows you to address both and become more in-tune with your body and your mind. Practicing a balanced diet is less of a self-care activity, and more of a lifestyle of continuous investment into yourself to better your physical and mental health.