Food and mental health

The complex link between what we eat and how we feel explained

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week and we know there has been lots written about food, mood and mental health, so we’re checking in with dietitian Sian Porter to give us the low down…

Sian says: “When it comes to the relationship between our diet and mental health, it can be very complex, however research shows there is evidence for a link between what we eat and how we feel. Your gut can reflect how you’re feeling - if you're stressed, it can speed up or slow down - so looking after it by including a variety of fibre rich foods such as fruit, vegetable, beans, nuts and wholegrains can help to keep your gut happy, so it can help to look after your head.”

Foods to include or remove to help your mood

  • To help prevent you feeling tired and bad tempered, eat regular meals as it will help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
  • Healthy fats found in foods such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, and eggs, eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, help to keep your brain working well, as well as benefiting your heart. So, ensure you keep a good balance of healthy unsaturated fats in your diet.
  • Caffeine can make some people anxious and irritable and avoiding it, especially before or close to bedtime, can be beneficial to helping improve your sleep, mood and tiredness.
  • Even slight dehydration may affect your mood. Aim for around six to eight glasses/cups (about 1.5 - 2 litres) unsweetened, non-caffeinated drinks per day and limit alcohol.

Mental Health Awareness week

Mental health is an important topic all year round, but Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May) is an opportunity to focus on what you can do to achieve good mental health.

This year the Mental Health Foundation are using the week to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness – which unsurprisingly is affecting more and more people in the UK since the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

Did you know there are many psychological, social and biological benefits of eating meals with other people? Not only does it make us feel connected to others but talking and listening helps to slow us down, so we don’t eat too fast. Even when it comes to preparing food, sharing the responsibilities (i.e. shopping, cooking, washing up) can help to boost your mood.


It’s not too late to get involved…

80 miles in May Challenge is just one of the ways you can get involved. Grab a friend, family member or colleague, your comfy trainer, water bottle and head out for a walk, jog or run each day. Track your miles each day and see if you can hit the 80 mile target in May! It’s free to take part but you can also use it as a fundraising opportunity too.

Read more about the challenge here >>>