The relationship between food and mental wellbeing appears to be complex and bidirectional. On the one side, eating well can improve our general health and gives our brains the energy we need to work, relax and live whilst on the other side, having good mental health encourages us to eat well and nourish our bodies in positive ways. Likewise, cramming our bodies with over processed junks can affect our moods, energy levels and self image; on the flip side, being depressed, sad or anxious can make us reach out for those ‘comfort’ foods. So, is this another chicken and egg scenario?
It seems so. Research has found that it is easier to maintain a healthy diet and regime if we are in a healthy state or mind. It also suggests that eating a balanced diet can improve our state of mind and lower the risk of mental illness.
But we already know that healthy foods = healthy life and I know we know we should be eating more fruits and veggies, lean protein and healthy fats. Clean eating for emotional wellbeing does not mean restricting your diet to three beans and a cup of green tea a day. It simple means avoiding processed foods, unrefined sugars (which cause the super high turbo boosts followed by the just as super turbo crash!!). It means instead of choosing a package food with 3000 ingredients (the only recognisable ones being oil and sugar) for foods with just a few ingredients. An apple for example, one ingredient….apple. But we know this.
What we may not realise is that the act of making the right food choices itself could help improve our emotional wellbeing.
It’s by using the chicken and egg scenario to our advantage that we begin to feel better. It’s by practicing intuitive eating, listening to your body and emotions before eating; this will help you make better choices. And when you start to make good choices it reinforces the FACT you are in control and guess what? Having a sense of control over your life is a BIG positive for mental health and emotional wellbeing!!!
So you don’t have to be perfect….no one is. Sometimes your body and mind are telling you to eat ice-cream and sometimes we will get distracted and eat an entire plate of nibbles. We just have to learn that more times we make a conscious and healthy decision about what we are going to put into our body, we gain more control and get better at making those choices in the future.