The Importance of Eating for Well-Being and Mental Health

Share Post:

Although people usually connect healthy foods with physical benefits, note that your emotional and mental state can be improved with proper eating habits. Eating for well-being means adopting a holistic approach and realizing that good nutrition can affect your physical, emotional, and mental condition. Find out what a healthy diet should look like and how it can affect your mood and cognitive functioning. 

Why Is Eating Healthy Important for Mental Health – The Scientific Explanation

According to the American Psychological Association, various neurotransmitters that the brain uses to control multiple emotional, cognitive, and physical functions are significantly influenced by gut bacteria. That includes both dopamine and serotonin, commonly known as feel-good neurotransmitters. On the other hand, gut bacteria are influenced by our diet

Good nutrition promotes the development of good bacteria, which beneficially impacts neurotransmitter production. Simultaneously, bad habits and junk foods lead to inflammation, which in turn interferes with the production of neurotransmitters. Therefore, your mood and cognitive functions can worsen when the gut microbiota is altered. 

Some nutrients cause a temporary increase of these neurotransmitters but the one that is quickly followed by a crash, which negatively affects the mood. The best example is sugar, which is also responsible for inflammation and bad gut bacteria growth. On the other hand, some nutrients are proven to positively affect a person’s ability to focus, improve attention span and concentration, reduce unwanted mood fluctuations, and support the immune system in natural ways. That is why good nutrition is essential.

Consuming Too Much or Too Little Food

At least 9% of the world population is affected by an eating disorder, defined as unhealthy behavior often associated with already existing physiological problems and distressing emotions. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder) are diseases that affect a person’s well-being and can have fatal consequences. 

People who suffer from these disorders need to learn more than what a healthy diet is and how to implement it – they need to find a way to cope with their emotions and accept the new image of themselves. The proper guidance and support are necessary – the importance of community for mental health, as well as psychotherapy, is immense. Therefore, if you feel that your food consumption is in the way of your well-being, make sure you reach out to a therapist. 

How to Get the Most From What You Eat? Tips for Improving Your Everyday Menu

Inadequate diets can negatively affect your emotional state and the decision-making process and lead to tiredness and slow reaction time. It can also play a big part in mood disorder development and even be one of the causes of anxiety and depression. To avoid that, you should:

  • Eat regularly – it will help you maintain steady sugar levels. When your sugar levels drop, you can experience fatigue or irritability. Additionally, try to have smaller meals throughout the day instead of one or two large ones. Also, avoid sweets, alcohol, and sugary drinks since they make your sugar levels spike and drop rapidly. 
  • Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible – this kind of food is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being. Some nutritional guidelines recommend you have five or more portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Keep in mind that vitamins and minerals positively affect dopamine and serotonin production. 
  • Ensure you get enough protein – proteins are made from amino acids necessary for good brain function. Some research shows that lower levels of amino acids contribute to depression development. 
  • Don’t avoid all fats – it’s a common misconception that all fats are bad. It’s true for saturated fats, though. Basically. your brain needs fats to work properly, so choose food high in unsaturated fats such as fish, avocado, eggs, nuts, seeds, and the like. 
  • Avoid foods with additives – research shows that food coloring, preservatives, and other additives can worsen disorders like depression or hyperactivity. That is why your diet should include only minimally processed foods. 

What if You Don’t Have Time to Cook and Prepare Healthy Meals?

A fast-paced lifestyle is an enemy of a healthy diet. Our jobs often leave us no time to eat properly and prepare meals, so we choose to go with junk food, unhealthy snacks, and other unsuitable alternatives. However, a healthy diet is an essential part of mental health care for career women and men. 

There are two options ahead of you – you can either choose to order healthier takeout or plan your meals ahead. If dining out regularly surpasses your financial possibilities, it is best to gather healthy recipes, plan what you’re going to eat for a whole week and prepare what you can in advance.

Good Nutrition and Physical Health

Of course, not only your mood, emotions, and cognitive functioning will be improved when you decide to eat better. In fact, most people lean on it for the physical benefits it provides. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a good diet:

  • Supports muscles, 
  • Strengthens bones,
  • Boosts immunity,
  • Lowers risk of heart diseases and stroke, 
  • Helps proper functioning of the digestive system, 
  • Helps maintain optimal weight.

Of course, keep in mind that physical activity is also necessary to achieve and maintain good physical condition. However, note that fitness also impacts mental health. Other feel-good chemicals called endorphins are produced during exercises, which can positively impact your energy levels and mood. 

Eating for Well-Being Is a Positive Step To Successful Counseling

If you’re looking for a type of therapy that inspires positive changes, prevents burnout, and releases energy blocked in your body, explore therapy that connects mind and body. It’s a type of treatment involving exercise, bodywork therapy, nutrition, and therapy counseling. One of our main fortes is promoting eating for mental health. You can help your body clear the toxins with proper nutrition and improving the overall state of body and mind with easily digestible but straightening foods. Note that we at Wise Oak Counseling have made this type of counseling one of our specialties. 

Explore All the Benefits You Can Gain With Wise Oak Counseling

Wise Oak Counseling specializes in more than just regular therapy. Whether you need the professional help of a psychotherapist or you want to try alternative approaches, such as  somatic therapy for trauma treatment, or acupressure therapy, we are here for you. Our experts have years of experience helping people heal. All you have to do is contact us and schedule an appointment.

Schedule An Appointment

More Updates