Updated: Sep 5, 2020
One of the most overlooked aspects of mental health is nutrition. Food plays a significant role in our physical health, as well as our mental and emotional health. When you are struggling with depression, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think about eating the right foods. But, some of these small changes in your diet may help to decrease your symptoms and have a positive impact on your daily life.
Focus on whole foods. Fill up on natural foods that are full of the nutrients and fiber that your body needs. Aim for at least 5-servings of vegetables and fruits each day, along with plenty of lean protein and healthy fats.
Limit processed foods. The other side of the equation is to cut back on junk food loaded with empty calories and sugar. That includes beverages as well as solid foods.
Eat a salad. Leafy green vegetables contain folate, which may relieve depression, as well as reducing your risk for certain cancers. Add a handful of beans to your salad to make it a balanced meal.
Enjoy chocolate. What could be easier than eating chocolate? Dark chocolate contains serotonin and antioxidants that help reduce stress. Be sure to watch portion sizes and check labels for actual cocoa content.
Seek variety. Different produce contains different vitamins. If you eat a variety of colors, you’re likely to wind up with a good balance.
Eat in. It’s easier to control what you’re consuming if you’re doing the cooking yourself, because restaurants tend to add more fat, salt, and sugar.
Keep a journal. Strong feelings like depression or happiness can affect your food choices. If you struggle with emotional eating, write down what you eat and what’s going on at the time. You’ll be able to spot your triggers and figure out alternative approaches.
Make friends with food. Strict diets can make you feel deprived or guilty. Remember that food nourishes your body and mind.
Our bodies interact with the foods we eat, and the choices we make each day can impact our body's ability to function at its best. Although, there is no specific diet that has been proven to alleviate depression, we can see that there are plenty of nutrient-rich foods that can help to keep our brains healthy, but we also need to include physical activity, good psychological care, adequate sleep, and adequate exposure to nature as a balanced lifestyle.
Also, it's a good idea to talk with your medical provider before making significant changes to your diet. Remember to also be patient with yourself as you begin to try new foods and give your body time to adjust to the changes you are making. Making better food choices can help your overall health as well as make a positive impact on your emotional wellness.
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