A healthy diet can make a significant difference to how quickly you recover from depression or anxiety.
In fact, eating healthily seems to be just as important for maintaining your mental health as it is for preventing physical health problems.
Research suggests exercise may be as effective as antidepressants at reducing the symptoms of depression (check out RED January to find out more on this and look at why the initiative was created).
In their guide for healthy eating, the NHS suggests eating the following food groups in your diet:
- eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. These should make up over a third of the food eaten on a daily basis.
- base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta. Choose higher fibre wholegrain varieties.
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein. Pulses are good alternatives to meat because they’re lower in fat and higher in fibre and protein.
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts. This includes vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils.
- drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day). This becomes more important than ever as you get older.
So how can food affect our mental being?
Improving your diet can help to:
- Improve mood
- Improve energy
- Improve clear thinking
If your blood sugar drops you may feel tired, irritable and depressed; moody. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep sugar levels steady.
Slow-releasing energy foods include; pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
Sometimes our gut reflects how we feel emotionally. Stress or anxiety can slow or speed up your gut. Fruits vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics all help to look after your gut.
Protein helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, and also contains some chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings.
Your gut will also benefit from exercise – even walking regularly – as it ‘pushes things along’ – making going to the loo easier.
However all of the advice above around healthy eating – can simply add more stress if you are an allergy sufferer, like myself.
For people like me, or for parents of children with severe food allergies, that need to be healthy has the added dimension of bypassing ‘healthy’ foods which could actually kill you such as nuts.
Eating healthily for those living with allergies is far more difficult than for those who don’t have consider such things.
This was part of the motivation for Creative Nature – we provide a safe space as well as safe products to think healthily about delicious snacks and foods while at the same time offering products which are safe to eat.
Healthy snacks are often all you need to give you that much-needed energy boost between meals or as a meal replacement if you are ‘on the go’.
Many of our customers are vegan and as it’s Veganuary our products support this ever-growing sector. We have a range of super foods including vegan protein powders and seeds; super food Raw Fruit Oatie bars that can give you a natural energy boost and our Protein Gnawbles that are, like all of our products, gluten, dairy, wheat and nut safe.
Feel free to have a browse and know our products are simply safe to eat whatever your particular dietary needs may be!