Good nutrition is a coping skill for mental health. Science supports food as an influencer on our moods and emotions. This, in turn, affects our daily quality of life.
In this post, I’ll highlight work I’ve done on healthy eating and the benefits I’ve gained. As always, proper nutrition in combination with weekly physical exercise garners optimal health benefits. I’ll focus on my use of low carbohydrate foods, a gluten-free regimen, and cooking with fresh and organic produce. All of these practices enable me to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy life.
Low Carbohydrate Foods
I’ve opted to eat a low carbohydrate diet. My focus is protein, fiber, and produce for energy – things like natural nut butter, whole block cheese, poultry, yogurt, and farm-fresh eggs. My energy is sustained for longer periods and I don’t have the dreaded “carb crash”. This leads to effective mood management, relationship maintenance, and ultimately more productive days. Sometimes, I’ll combine a protein with a fruit or vegetable for a complex-carbohydrate snack: a banana with peanut butter, an apple with cheese, or grilled chicken with a hearty salad.
I’ve also chosen to go as gluten-free as possible. This includes corn, rice, oats, potatoes, and other gluten-free products, like pasta. These are carbohydrates (sugars), so I consume them minimally. They are easier on my digestive system and can be whole grain and multigrain. A few examples of gluten-free meals and snacks are tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole, popcorn naturally-seasoned, and wild rice or sweet potatoes.
Fresh and Organic Produce
When I eat “clean” with lots of fruits and vegetables, I have better mental clarity. Again, my energy is steady (it doesn’t spike and crash), and it gives me a better quality day. Bananas, apples, and oranges, all eaten fresh, are delicious snacks. I make homemade soups and applesauce, and breakfast avocado toast spread. I also enjoy roasted or grilled vegetables (grilled fruits are great too), fresh green salads, and vegetable “noodles”. Frozen is always great too.
In my experience, I’ve found that eating with these habits results in less moodiness, better focus, and more sustained energy. This is important when dealing with mood and emotion disorders that affect physical and mental energy levels. When I manage symptoms with adequate nutrition, I have better social relationships and interactions. [While not directly causing weight gain, it’s important to note that psychiatric medications contribute to increased hunger and appetite.]
It takes a significant amount of mental fortitude to adjust to healthier eating lifestyles as our bodies adapt. With a decision and commitment to nutritious eating habits, we can keep our medications at a minimum, maintain a healthy weight, improve our mental health, and enjoy each day to the fullest.