Diet and nutrition | Simple changes for better mental health


As we all know, diet and nutrition are very important to our physical health. Eating poorly can result in a lot of health issues, such as developing cardiovascular disease. We know to stay away from things like processed food and fried food to maintain better physical health. What about mental health? It seems that we rarely discuss nutrition although we know that physical heath (body) is connected to mental health (mind) vise versa. Because of this mind-body connection, it is worthwhile to understand the importance of keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle so I put together some simple changes you can make to improve and support your mental health that I personally tried and recommend.


Choose quality vitamins over inexpensive alternatives


Not so long ago, I wrote an article about the importance of supplementing with B12 as severe deficiency can cause depression and other symptoms. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would like to encourage you to read it first here.

There are different brands of vitamins out there but making sure to take one which contains B12 in the form of Methylcobalamin will ensure better absorption and usability by the body.

Diet and nutrition

I take Multi-vitamins for Women from Smartypants because it provides B12 in the form of methylcobalamin and it is widely available in most grocery or drug stores. The price is also affordable, and the bonus is that they are yummy too!


Take it easy on sugar


When I first started to cut down on sugar, it wasn’t because I knew it would help with my mood and depression, but it was because I needed to lose some weight. Considering how heavily I was consuming sugar for the past decades, it seemed nearly impossible at first. My diet was so unhealthy that I would literally eat cookies as a meal instead of eating wholesome food. Anyhow, I was able to go on a low sugar diet with encouragement and support from my family.

It was after I’ve been on the low to almost no sugar diet that I noticed my mental fog clearing away and my mood improving. This is when I got curious and did some research on the benefit of a low sugar diet. There are numerous studies and researches that were done that suggest the link between high consumption of sugar and depression. Here is a link to one great article that explains this further in details. It is alarming to know the impact sugar has on our cognitive function and mood. A lot of times, we learn the health benefit of certain foods and diet first and then we try them to hopefully experience those benefit. My experience was backward as you see. However, in a way, I am glad it was that way because I know for certain that it was truly the change I made to cut out sugar that triggered improvement on my mood and not the expectation or placebo effect. Diet and nutrition

Here are some baby steps and ideas I tried to cut down on sugar:

  • Step 1 – Stop drinking soda and sweetened drinks
  • Step 2 – If you have a hard time giving up on sugar and desserts, try limiting to one dessert a day and work your way from there.
  • Step 3 – Once you are comfortable with one dessert a day, try switching to zero sugar desserts such as chocolates sweetened with stevia instead of sugar.
  • Step 4 – Stick with your routine! As surprising as it may seem now, the best part about this is that you will actually start to lose your cravings for sugar over time. I was one of them who thought that was impossible, but it does happen, trust me πŸ™‚


Consider decaf and other alternatives to coffee


I know this one is going to be a hard one for most of us. Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee in the morning, between breaks, or even after a long day? I understand our love for coffee and how hard it is to give that up. However, we all know that caffeine makes us alert, and sometimes it also can add up to increased anxiety. By simply reducing caffeine intake, we can reduce our anxiety level.

I used to get chest pain every morning due to anxiety. However, I was also having coffee in the morning, which clearly worsened the chest pain. After I saw my psychiatrist and told her about my chest pain, she advised me to switch to decaf, which I initially thought wouldn’t help at all with my anxiety. Surprisingly for me, my chest pain slowly went away after I made the switch to decaf. Today, I hardly ever get one in the morning.

Diet and nutrition

For some of you who love the taste of coffee and feel that decaf just doesn’t do the justice, I have some advice for you. Try looking into quality French roast decaf. Because it is a dark roast, it gives you that real coffee tastes we all crave, and I found it really satisfying and almost felt like I was drinking a real coffee. You can find these anywhere, but I found mine at Sprouts just to give you an example.

Now, I also know that we need that energy boost in the morning, and oftentimes that is the main reason why it is so hard to quit on coffee. I am definitely one of them, but I have found what works for me to give me the energy boost I need without getting me in high anxiety. I drink this superfood green juice, which is essentially natural caffeine and also gives me my daily greens. Despite what it looks like, the taste is actually really good, and I have been using this as a replacement for my caffeinated coffee. It gives me just enough energy to wake up and take on the day without giving me any chest pain, so I highly recommend this to those who need the energy boost in the morning. Diet and nutrition


Avoid processed food


Although it tastes good to most of us and it might even make us feel good at the moment, try replacing processed food with homemade meals and fresh fruits. I believe we all know and understand this one very well, but it is just a matter of changing our eating habit. We already know that processed food is not good for us and there is rarely any nutrition in it compared to homemade meals. Understanding the connection between mind and body, taking great care of our body by ensuring it receives enough nutrient is a necessary foundation for better mental health. Same goes with sleep and we know about that all too well. The body won’t run optimally when we are short on sleep or eating unhealthy foods all the time. So I challenge you to take a baby step today by either looking up a recipe and find a routine you can stick to and start changing the way you eat. Remember, baby steps go a long way and no matter how small that step is, the most important part is that you take that step forward!

Diet and nutrition


Conclusion


These are the four simple changes you can make today that are manageable, and they will truly make a great difference in your anxiety level and depression. I recommend trying one thing at a time and see if you notice any improvement in how you feel. We often underestimate the power of baby steps but I encourage you to start with what you can at a pace you can handle. Remember, this is for you and about you. I hope you will get to feel even just slightly better with these simple changes. Please let us know in the comment section below πŸ™‚

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Comments

  1. Oloyede3

    Thank you very much for this article, it is very helpful i love eating good food especially food rich in protein and vitamins because they helps to repair damage tissue and also helps in rapid growth. I believe eating good food and staying away from junks will really prolong a person life. Thank you for this post once again, I will definitely share it with my friends and family i believe they will learn something from this.

    1. Blue

      Oloyede3,

      You are very welcome! Yes, eating well and smart does many things and only good things. Although it is often dismissed, it really affects our mind in a positive way also. I’m glad you found this helpful and thank you for stopping by my page πŸ™‚

  2. Fredery

    I just learned a lot of important things about nutrition that I did not know before. I think it’s amazing how just some simple changes in our daily life can make a huge difference in our physical and in this case, mental health. I’m gonna start with cutting out sugar and go from there. 

    1. Blue

      I agree! I think that it’s crazy but amazing at the same time. I know these simple changes really made a huge improvement in my mood and energy, and I can’t even compare that to how I felt when I was taking prescription medications.  Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to you on cutting out sugar! Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

  3. Snowflake

    You are right. There is a lot of information about dieting for the physical body, but for the mind, not so much. Great advice here. Give up coffee? Oh my goodness, I have just started the habit of having a coffee every day but I know you are right. 

    I never thought about taking a Green Superfood in the morning. Can I ask does it taste any good? and is there ways to make it taste better for those who do like a sweet start? πŸ™‚

    I have now use Stevia in almost everything and love it. Also found out the hard way, that you need less then normal white sugar as it seem quite sweet. Lol was funny when I made a drink an added the same amount of Stevia as I would sugar.

    Thank you for the article.

    Snowflake

    1. Blue

      Snowflake,

      The green juice actually tastes really good! I prepared myself for that nasty bitter taste when I took my first sip, but to my surprise, it’s actually sweet and enjoyable! It has watermelon flavor to it and also sweetened with stevia πŸ™‚  I actually savor it because I began to really like the taste and how it makes my body feel.  Let me know how you like it if you decide to give it a try.  

  4. Stefan

    Hi and thanks for this valuable reminder.

    I must say I could use some of these tips to work on my anxiety. I like the easy to go steps you recommend. Sugar for example, is one thing I could reduce and must reduce already. The 4 steps you suggest are a good help for doing this in a way that doesn’t affect my life too much.

    Coffee too is one of my everyday musts. I’ll just have to reduce coffee to a one time morning ritual and try to go on with unsweetened lime water for the rest of the day.

    Do you think one real coffee per day is already too much?

    1. Blue

      Hi Stefan,

      I’m glad you found this article helpful πŸ™‚ For someone who is struggling with severe anxiety, I do believe that even just one cup of coffee would make a big difference for his anxiety level throughout the day. If you are drinking one for the taste only, I would recommend trying decaf.  But If you really need that energy boost, I would try replacing coffee with things like that green juice I recommended or other alternatives that don’t contain stimulants.

  5. You’ve provided some great tips for improving mental health. I suffer from anxiety as well when I drink coffee. Sometimes I drink coffee just for the taste. Now that I’ve read about the drawbacks of drinking coffee and seeing that I’m not alone in feeling anxiety, I should probably cut back.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Britney,

      You’re very welcome! You’re definitely not alone in dealing with anxiety. I’m glad you stopped by and read my article, Britney. Let me know if you have any questions πŸ™‚

  6. You’re right, of course! Mental health is certainly affected by what we choose to put in our bodies. Mind and body are inextricably linked to each other. Healthy body = healthy mind, and vice versa.
    I wonder how many serious mental health issues are caused by a bad diet and exercise regimen.
    I’ve heard Turmeric is great for the brain. I’ve even heard that in India, they have a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and they think Turmeric (used a lot in their cooking) is responsible for that. It could, however, just be genetic.

    Great post.

    1. James,

      I know how Turmeric has many health benefits but I actually did not know about how it can help with cognitive functions. I would have to do more research and find out more myself πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. I will have to try cutting back on caffeine to see if it helps with my anxiety. I never thought that might heighten the issue.

    1. Scott,

      I’m glad you found this helpful. Take it easy with weaning off caffeine and please let me know it helps you with your anxiety πŸ™‚

  8. Dee

    Great ideas to help make changes.

    1. Dee,

      Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you found this helpful πŸ™‚

  9. Colleen

    I am so glad that I found this article! I have been feeling very down because my children are getting older and moving away. I have been so anxious as well. Thank you for the friendly reminder that too much caffeine is not good for our moods. I have been drinking so much lately and overeating sugar in the evenings. I thank you for the friendly nudge that I need. One question to you, how long did it take you to wean yourself off of caffeine? Did you have headaches for a while? Did the greens help? And if so, how many servings of greens would you drink in a day? Thank you!

    1. Colleen,

      You are very welcome πŸ™‚ You asked a really good question about weaning off caffeine. Every person is different, but I had terrible migraines because I was a heavy coffee drinker. I would say the migraine lasted for about a few days… I could have slowly weaned off of it but I just decided to do cold turkey at the time and drank decaf only, which clearly wasn’t the greatest idea. lol I would suggest start slow and listen to your body as you slowly cut back on caffeine. There is no need for you to suffer migraine like I did. And unfortunately, I found out about this green juice way after I quit drinking my regular coffee but it might have helped with the withdrawal. As for the servings, it actually does not say how often to drink it but says one serving is equivalent to one cup of coffee. I drink it once in the morning and I’m good for the day.

      I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions πŸ™‚

  10. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with low sugar diets. I find it interesting since I practice intermittent fasting with the keto diet. Great advise on the green juice ! I mix it in with my protein shakes and can feel my body just start flowing with energy. I may have to give that French Roast Decaf a try one day. Thank you for sharing all your tips and knowledge.

    1. Fernando,

      I tried Keto diet for a while also and that green juice is Keto friendly because it is sweetened with Stevia πŸ™‚ I’m glad you’re already doing the sugar free diet, which helps with not just improving mental health but other things such as reducing inflammation. Let me know how you like the French Roast Decaf!

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