With so much going on in the world right now, most people’s schedules and routines have been flipped upside down. Many of us are working from home, staying inside more often, and seeing our friends and family less than before. This sudden change in routine can throw our normal healthy habits out the window, like exercising and eating healthy.
The problem is, these two factors play a huge role in our mental health, so if we begin to let these slide, we may notice that we’re feeling frustrated, unmotivated, and even depressed.
And as we find ourselves in a time when there’s so much that we can’t control, focusing on making good decisions for the things we can control starts with our health. Exercise is super important, and you can see some of my favorite ways to get moving during quarantine here, but today, I want to focus on the food we consume. The connection between what we eat and our mental state is incredibly powerful, which is why I want to share with you a little about the importance of not only what we eat, but how we eat.
Food and mental health – where’s the connection?
Studies reveal that an unhealthy diet can be directly linked to depression, as a symptom used to determine depression is a change in appetite. One main reason is that some battling mental health issues use eating (or even not eating) as a way to feel better, in turn causing a decline in their physical health.
According to the American Psychological Association, our bodies go-to is to seek sugar when we’re feeling stressed, as it’s seen as a quick boost of energy for the body. But too much sugar consumption can have detrimental effects on the body, causing serious illnesses like diabetes and obesity. And in addition to this, it can also cause food and sugar addictions, which is no good for mental health either.
We must remember that our bodies and minds are connected, so, fortunately, we can make great headway in taking control of our mental health by consuming a healthier diet. Cutting down on things like added sugars, red meat, and packaged or processed foods is a great step in the right direction.
So what should we really be eating to avoid symptoms of depression and keep us feeling happy?
There’s no denying that the best foods to put into our bodies are “whole foods,” which are foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. That includes whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
These are the kind of natural fiber-rich foods that keep us satisfied, alert, and also help keep stress levels down. They are packed with the kinds of nutrients that our bodies need to thrive.
90% of our serotonin receptors are found in the gut, so foods like eggs, cheese, tofu, and salmon have all been shown to improve serotonin levels, helping in stabilizing our mood. Fermented foods like kefir or kimchi, and probiotic-rich foods like plain or greek yogurt are also great for our gut health.
But how can I eat healthy all the time?
While we may want to try out new, healthy recipes using all these amazing mood-boosting foods, getting around to cooking three nutritious meals a day just might not be realistic for everyone.
You see, mindfulness plays a big role in mastering discipline, especially when it comes to our eating habits. So paying attention to not only what we’re eating, but how we’re eating is just as crucial.
When life throws us curveballs, it’s important to pay attention to how we’re reacting. Sometimes stress and overwhelm can get the best of us and manifest itself in mindless snacking or overeating, especially as many of us are still working from home. And we might have also heard at one point or another that snacking is bad… But snacking in the right way is absolutely welcomed!
Remember, mindfulness is a practice that keeps our vibrations high. And mindful eating is healthy eating. So instead of reaching for a convenient or sugary snack, especially if you’re in a low mood, you can opt for healthy, mood-boosting snacks like fresh berries, nuts, and even dark chocolate.
There are always healthy ways to eat and snack, but it’s just about being mindful in the process. So in addition to things like making a point to take a break during the workday or to get up for a stretch, having a healthy snack is a great way to keep yourself energized and focused. You can even set a schedule or reminders for yourself throughout the day to make sure you are stopping down to simultaneously nourish your body and mind with healthy food.
Instead of letting food negatively impact your mental health, you can use food as a tool to help boost and elevate your overall well-being. So now more than ever, it’s just about making smart choices like incorporating more fruits and veggies, sticking to a schedule, and being mindful of your eating habits to stay on track.
In more ways than one, protecting your health and immunity starts from within. And this is why I want to also share with you VITALITY, our good health supercharger guided meditation pack. It’s so important right now to keep our immune systems strengthened to combat illness and start healing from suffering of any kind. So get ready to feel the difference from within with this unique guided meditation and breathing exercise combo to start protecting your mind and body for radiant health!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.