LifestyleVolume 12 Issue # 24

A healthy diet boosts good mood and mental health

Healthy eating is not primarily about depriving yourself of the foods you love. It’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving health, and stabilizing one’s mood. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying the exact opposite. Eating right can help maintain a healthy weight and avoid certain health problems, but diet also affects mood and sense of wellbeing. Studies have linked eating a typical diet full with processed packaged meals, takeout food, and sugary snacks with higher rates of depression, stress, bipolarity, and anxiety. Some studies also go on to prove that eating an unhealthy diet may even play a vital role in the development of disorders such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia. Fresh fruits and vegetables, home cooked meals, reduced intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates may help to improve mood and lower risk for mental health issues. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be overly complex. It’s the simple formula of replacing processed food with real food. Organic foodcan make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel. Moving to a healthy diet doesn’t have to be an all or nothing drastic change.To set for success, plan a healthy diet as a number of small steps, add a salad to your diet once a day. As slight changes become habit, continue to add more healthy options. We all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body. Select the healthiest options from each category.

Use these simple tips, create a tasty and healthy diet with enough variety. Sustain the fuel that is good for your mind and body.

Prepare: Cook more meals at home. Take charge of what you’re eating and determine exactly what goes into your food. Avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day: A healthy breakfast can jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up all day.

Smaller portions: Have your meals on smaller plates or bowls, trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, have some water or green tea. If you still feel hungry, munch on green leafy vegetables or fruit.

Right changes: Replace unhealthy food with healthier alternatives. Throw away any and all junk food in the cabinets. You’ll thank yourself later for this when the attack of the mid- night munchies hits or just having a lazy Sunday or even craving comfort junk food. Switch to healthier options, make the change today and no change is small or inconsequential.

Moderation: It means eating only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, but not stuffed. For many of us, moderation means eating less than we do now. But it doesn’t mean eliminating the foods you love. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often.

Simplify: Instead of counting calories, think of your diet in terms of colour, variety, and freshness. Avoid packaged and processed foods and opt for fresh ingredients.Make your meals colourful. The brighter, deeper coloured fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, different colours provide different benefits.

Take your time: Eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.It takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food. Read labels: It’s important to be aware of what’s in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar or unhealthy fats in packaged food, even food claiming to be healthy.

Focus on how you feel: The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel uncomfortable, nauseous, or drained of energy.The healthier food you eat, the better you’ll feel after a meal.

Drink water: Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins. Many of us go through life dehydrated which causes tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so stay well hydrated. More fruits and vegetable: Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and very nutritional. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily amount of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. To increase your consumption, add berries to breakfast cereals, eat fruit for dessert, snack on vegetables instead of processed snacks.