When you or a loved one are first diagnosed with depression, anxiety or any type of mental ill-health, it can be a very challenging time. However, it can also represent a wonderful opportunity to learn about the healing powers of food and your incredible body. There are many natural approaches to supporting mental ill-health that has been proven to play an important role in strengthening an overactive nervous system and lack of certain mood affecting hormones. Healthy food choices can play a very important role in managing symptoms, with other integral health maintenance areas like sleep, exercise and meditation. Let’s keep it simple, too much stress over too long a period not only depletes your body of nutrients, leaving it exhausted, it also alters your body’s biochemistry making it more likely to crave and overeat junk food and store weight. Using the power of healthy nutritious food, we can support your nervous system so you experience fewer cravings and produce a steady stream of feel-good chemicals naturally. As a bonus, you can lose weight and see your mood, skin and muscle tone improve.
How are food and stress related?
When we make poor food choices that tend to be high in sugar, low in fibre, high in high glycaemic carbohydrates, high in saturated fats and high in salt, they heighten our energy causing our mood to go from very high to very low. This stress on the body leads to inflammation and heightened insulin response, which adds to the fat storage caused by raised stress hormones. A stressed brain very commonly craves sugar, salt and processed fats as fuel. These foods initially make us feel better, but then lead to a mood drop, as well as more cravings and potentially long-term weight gain. Skipping meals can raise your body’s insulin response and therefore lead to fat storage and weight gain, especially around the middle.
General eating habit recommendations
- Mediterranean style diet
- Organic where possible
- Low sugar
- High omega-3 fats
- Complex carbohydrates
- High protein
- Low or no caffeine
- Low or no alcohol
- High water intake
- Gluten-free *recommended
Mental health-supporting meal examples
- 1 cup amaranth & quinoa flake porridge with almond milk, grated pear & cinnamon
- 2 poached eggs, ½ avocado, 3 strips smoked salmon, fresh chives & 1 GF toast
- 1 frozen banana, 10 blueberries, 1 scoop greens powder, 2 cups almond milk, 1 tbsp nut butter & 1 tbsp chia seed smoothie
- 3 egg mushroom and capsicum omelette, handful rocket & pinenuts
- 4 slices turkey, 1 boiled egg, 1 cup rice, ½ avocado, 10 tamari almonds, handful raw spinach and fresh lemon dressing
- 1 grilled salmon fillet, sweet potato chia seed mash, 10 olives, handful rocket, 6 cherry tomatoes, 5 feta cubes salad, 1 tbsp olive oil & 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 grilled barramundi fillet, lemon wedge, 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups lightly steamed bok choy & broccolini with 2 tbsp tamari sauce.
- organic poached chicken breast, 2 cups steamed broccoli, frozen peas & 1 cup boiled new potatoes, 1 knob organic butter and 4 fresh mint leaves.
- 4 spiralized zucchinis, 2 garlic cloves, 1 red onion, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tin kidney beans, 1 pinch chilli flakes, ¼ cup fresh basil and ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese.
Please always seek advice from your Doctor before making new decisions about your treatment and make sure to not change or discontinue any current medication without the support of your therapist(s).