FOOD SLEEP MOOD
Healthy eating isn’t just about ensuring we are having a well-balanced diet to support our physical health. It also has an effect on the way we feel.
A well balanced diet containing a range of nutrients can help to:
- Improve your mood;
- Give you energy;
- Help you think more clearly.
Here are some tips from Mind to get you started and some recipe ideas to encourage healthy eating
- Eating breakfast gets the day off to a good start;
- Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day;
- Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
- It’s recommended that you drink between 6-8 glasses of fluid a day;
- Water is a cheap and healthy option;
- Tea, coffee, juices and smoothies all count towards your intake (but be aware that these may also contain caffeine or sugar).
Getting your 5 A day
- Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day;
- As a general rule, one portion is about a handful, small bowl or a small glass.
For ideas on how to get your 5 a day, visit NHS Choices.
Looking after your gut
For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly.
Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.
- It might take your gut time to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly to give yourself time to adjust;
- If you’re feeling stressed and you think it is affecting your gut, try some relaxation techniques or breathing exercises.
Get enough protein
- Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer;
- Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep (especially if you have it before bed), or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly.
Caffeine is in: tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks.
- If you drink tea, coffee or cola, try switching to decaffeinated versions;
- You might feel noticeably better quite quickly if you drink less caffeine or avoid it altogether.
Eating the right fats
Our brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.
Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.
- Try to avoid anything which lists ‘trans fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the list of ingredients (such as some shop-bought cakes and biscuits). They can be tempting when you’re feeling low, but this kind of fat isn’t good for your mood or your physical health in the long run.
Look after your sleep
Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.
Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment. The Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep.