I’m not gonna lie when I say there’s a huge difference AND huge similarities between food that’s good for both your physical health and your mental health. Eating healthy is scientifically proven to benefit your body, reducing weight, reducing risk of disease which all in turn contribute to a better standard of living and overall increased life satisfaction? Yes?
Food is a huge social part of our lives, and, for me, provides a large amount of enjoyment. However eating out often can mean excess portion sizes and naughty treats that often become more regular than they are intended to be. We can almost become addicted to the social pleasure and convenience of dining out, but is our health being compromised? Our mental health may be helped by the ease and social pleasure, but could this be a huge cause of weight gain, in turn knocking our mental health back down when issues go too far? It’s a vicious circle.
Mental health issues can often disturb our body’s natural cycles and habits. Sleep and routines can be interfered with, which can also play a massive part in eating. Eating disorders are without a doubt the biggest challenge when it comes to food, but other conditions can cause disruption to. Depression may result in person’s struggling to even make a meal, where as anxiety can result in a person to avoid eating certain foods or food groups. Whilst I don’t want to make generalised assumptions here, it’s important that the fact of food disturbance can take a knock on both mental and physical health.
If a person’s not eating, whilst it is important to make sure they’re getting a healthy balanced diet, it’s even more so important that a person is getting enough energy to get them through the day, especially in the early days of treatment and progression. Food can be hard. Preferences here are so important. If a person hasn’t eaten for days, but they get comfort from a jam doughnut, let them have the doughnut! It may be the only energy they get for a while, and whilst it’s high in sugar and could cause a flux in mood, in the beginning it’s just more important to get some nutrients inside. Fluids are also extremely important – and useful. Solid food may not be possible, so calorific drinks, such as fruit juices and milk are a good way to get in energy.
Little steps are so important. Even eating or even making a meal could be a huge part in recovery.
And sometimes, when a person is eating better, healthy food may be getting them down. This is why it’s so important to have a varied diet and keep creative with meals, especially if a diet change is happening for disease management or weight loss. But at the same time, comfort food and dining out may increase satisfaction, mood and overall better health in individuals. I bet you’re sick of hearing it, but it’s all about balance. Balance, but then listening to your body’s needs in times of need.
Food and mood is promoted by the charity Mind. They provide simple, basic tips to keeping healthy and things you can do to help improve your mental well-being. These even provide small but essential pointers, such as drinking water, eating breakfast and foods to avoid on medications. If you’re struggling with your mental health, they’re a great site to get your simple fix of easy translations of all the facts.
It’s a pretty deep and argumentative subject. Nutrition is weird like that. There’s so many pros and cons of our dietary habits and what is best for us at a certain time, without taking it too far. I’d like to hear what people think around this topic – Food is both a blessing and a curse and the huge cross over in terms of health is something I think should definitely be delved into further.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.