Info, Events and Training Mental Health Support Looking after your mental health How what you eat is linked with how you feel Download factsheet What you eat can impact how you feel Simple steps to follow to help food boost your mood Useful links and helpful tips We are often told how important it is to eat a healthy and balanced diet to nourish our bodies and protect our physical health, but what about our mental health? What you eat can impact how you feel. When we are feeling low or anxious, it can be easy to reach for calorie-dense, quick and easy meals and comfort foods in an effort to fill ourselves up and boost our mood. However, these normally sweet and sugary foods can make our blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, quite often having the opposite effect. If you are hungry, your mind will be unable to concentrate on the task in hand, you will be more sluggish and lack energy, may feel weak and have other symptoms which can make you feel unwell. Stress can also impact gut health by making your digestive system slow down or speed up. Try not to skip meals, as eating regular healthy meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or small and regular portions will nourish both your body and your mind. Food not only provides us with the nutrients and sustenance needed to function and survive, but connects people too. Creating a special meal for a loved one or friend, teaching our children how to bake or enjoying a sit down meal at a restaurant, or even just the dinner table at home, is a great way to connect with others and enjoy food. A slow cooker is also a fantastic way to cook meals; it is very quick, easy and convenient, and fits in with our busy lives. Slow cooker meals work well if cooking for one person, or for a family, as meals can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later. Batch cooking can be a great way to plan ahead for a busy week and ensure you get the right sustenance! Some fantastic mood-boosting foods are: sweet Potatoes bananas leafy greens such as broccoli avocados oatmeal lentils Simple steps to follow to help food boost your mood Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day - these include fresh whole portions e.g. an apple, a banana, or a handful or strawberries; tinned, frozen, dried and juiced fruits and vegetables also count. You can find out more about this at info.nhs.co.uk Stay Hydrated - drink 6-8 glasses of fluid per day. Tea, coffee, juices and smoothies count towards fluid intake, but water is important as it is free of both caffeine and sugar. A varied, healthy diet - try to choose from the five main food groups to get a wide variety of nutrients. The five groups are: fruit and vegetables starchy food/ carbohydrates (such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta) dairy and dairy alternatives (milk, cheese, soya, yoghurts) protein (beans, pulses, fish, eggs, lean meats) unsaturated oils and fats. Helpful tips Not everyone has the same access to fresh and nutrient-rich food. Community Fridges are fantastic projects which have been introduced over the last few years which help to impact food poverty by giving people access to food. They also reduce our carbon footprint by saving perfectly edible food which would otherwise go to landfill and directing it to the people who need it. Not everyone has the same skills, but cooking does not have to be difficult. You can even access short food skills courses through fantastic organisations such as AEL Access Employment Limited. Useful links Here are some small steps you can take to keep on top of our mental wellbeing and cope during times of uncertainty. Finding a service for you You can locate details of the Extern's mental health services which may be near you here.