Everyday we are bombarded with diet related information. Most of this information comes at us with the promise and hope for a “better looking” body according to the standards of today. There are countless diets being advertised and it is easy to become overwhelmed trying to navigate through it all. We often look to food to help us fuel and shape our bodies. However, not many of these adverts seem to focus on our minds. In other words, can food also help to fuel and shape our mental health? The answer is a growing yes. Studies are finding more and more evidence to support the idea that food can greatly affect our moods. The relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry has been delving deep into this issue and has come forth with some interesting findings.
In one study, researchers have found that diet has a positive association with depression. Meaning that eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, poultry, fish and reduced fat dairy can help to reduce the odds of having depression. Moreover, diets such as the Mediterranean diet with the addition of nuts can aid in the prevention of depressive symptoms.
Although this research is new and much more needs to be studied, maintaining a diet full of fresh foods and void of processed food is a great way to start caring for our mental health.
In order to find out which foods help or hinder your mood and emotions, I recommend to start off slowly integrating healthy choices and see how your mood reacts to different foods. Keeping a food and mood journal can help you to find foods that are best for your brain. Write down how you feel before, during and immediately after introducing a food. Then write down your mood again after an hour of eating. Recording this can help you to establish a pattern and better evaluate the effects that various foods have on your mood and emotions.
Written By: Kathryn Chambers
Intern, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.