Eat to improve your for mental health

We know there is a strong link between mental health and diet. With this in mind, we can improve our mood simply by eating nutritious foods.

At first instance, foods like chocolate, ice-cream and even alcohol may bring about feelings of comfort and satisfaction, but we all know that after eating these foods our moods return to baseline.

A nutritious and well balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) can improve depression and associated symptoms. The SMILES trial conducted at Monash University observed that the group of people who attended appointments with a dietitian to align their diet with the MedDiet significantly reduced their symptoms of depression compared with the control group (this group only received traditional psycho-therapy support)

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The MedDiet is inspired from traditional dietary patterns of southern Italy, Greece, Morocco and Spain. It was not until the 1990’s was deemed good for the heart and became popular in Europe and the United States. The MedDiet is a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, nuts, herbs, spices, cheese and yoghurts . There is a moderate to high intake of oily fish, chicken, eggs, and a low intake of red meat and processed foods.

The MedDiet has a unique fat composition which is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat (read more about the types of fat here). The major source of fat in the MedDiet is olive oil which is heavily used in cooking.

Strategies to improve your mental health through the MedDiet

  • Start with realistic swaps to help form a habit. This could be as simple as replacing your can of sugary drinks with kombucha

  • Use olive oil rather than butter or margarine as a spread or in cooking

  • Utilise herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme rather than salt to flavour your foods

  • Focus on wholefoods like a piece of fruit, handful of unsalted nuts, vegie sticks and a tub of no added sugar yoghurt for snacks

  • Find other ways to cope with stress that are not food related, like going for a walk or calling a friend to chat

If you will like to have a chat, please make an appointment with me to discuss your sustainable, realistic and practical dietary strategies to improve your mood through good food.

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