Changing your Diet to Improve Mental Wellbeing

 23rd May 2016

Food

There is a close relationship between physical and mental well-being, with many cognitive disorders leading to physical detriment in a person’s body.

For example, depression has been known to cause loss of appetite and a reduction in the effectiveness of a person’s immune system which can then lead to the development of additional illnesses as a result.

One important area of your lifestyle which should be considered at all times, especially during periods of mental or physical illness is your diet, as this can strongly influence your health and wellbeing in a number of ways.

Unlike our career, financial situation and social life, our diet is one of the few areas of life which we have complete control over, and making changes is relatively easy and inexpensive.

What is ‘Eating Well’?

Although the perfect diet can vary greatly from person to person based on their dietary needs, illnesses and other factors, there are some key mutual concept which are important to consider when improving your eating habits.

  1. Weight

The type and quantity of food you consume is one of the fundamental factors in the stability of your weight. Eating an excess of calories will inevitably lead to weight gain over time and this can entail a number of negative consequences such as increased chance of heart disease and low self-esteem.

Maintaining a reasonable BMI and body fat percentage, as well as simply being happy with the way you look will help reduce your risk of developing various conditions as well as bolstering your confidence.

Furthermore, monitoring your weight and checking for fluctuations is important, as marked changes in body mass has been known to be an indication of impending health problems such as cancer and possibly dementia.

  1. A Balanced Diet

Quantity is not the only topic to consider. Eating a varied diet with sufficient amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats will ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to repair after exercise, maintain focus and concentration and be able to deal with illnesses as effectively as possible.

Fruit, vegetables and healthy fats are a few of the most commonly neglected foods which can be used to replace other less ideal alternatives and have a higher nutrient density compared with foods such as white rice and pasta.

Furthermore, including more fibrous foodstuffs within your diet will help keep you satisfied for longer and will help alleviate the bloated feeling associated with eating large starchy meals such as fast food and other convenience food.

Slow digesting, fibrous foods can help reduce the ‘craving’ sensation associated with high sugar diets and this can help you shed pounds (if you need to lose weight) as well as save you money on purchasing snacks.

  1. Hydration

Staying hydrated is another crucial element of our diet. It is incredibly easy to neglect water despite its abundance and many people consume large quantities of fruit, juice coffee and other drinks instead which contain more calories and lack much of water’s hydration benefits.

Ensuring you have a sufficient amount of water in your diet will keep your body in optimal working condition, help to flush out unwanted bacteria from the bladder and kidneys and even assist in combating fatigue.

As one of the staples of survival, drinking adequate amounts of water can prevent many negative health effects such as a loss of concentration and motivation, headaches and, in extreme cases fainting and heart palpations.

  1. Reducing or eliminating the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and substances

This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but the consumption of any of the above can lead to an array of negative symptoms, as well as leading to the development of more serious physical and mental illnesses in more serious cases.

Alcohol is classed to be a depressant so, while it is enjoyed by many people in moderation, keeping your consumption to a minimum will avoid side effects. These include alcohol dependence, poisoning and depression as well as negative behaviour such as aggression.

Alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs can quickly become addictive with any people using them as a means to deal with the pressures of life.

However, even for casual users, addictive substances can become an all too prevalent part of a person’s life and many of the attributed negative side effects can occur regardless of a person’s intentions and medical history.

Substances can also cause short term effects to a person’s body and mind. For example, the use of cannabis has been known to instigate episodes of paranoia with varying severity, as well as causing sensations such as panic attacks and heart palpations.

Understanding your diet and identifying ways to make worthwhile changes are incredibly powerful tools to have in the pursuit of happiness and mental wellbeing.

Whilst you don’t necessarily need to make an extreme overhaul to your diet, making gradual but definite changes will benefit you considerably in the long run and will help prevent the development of many physical illnesses as well as improving your mood, self-confidence and motivation.

Encompass work on a daily basis to improve the lives of people living with mental health illnesses and learning disabilities by providing services such as day care support, respite care and supported living.

Find out how our caring team can help you or a loved one by clicking here.

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