A Good Diet and Mental Health: Benefits Await

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A good diet and mental health, such as this plate of asparagus and protein, are linked.

When many of us think of a healthy diet, our minds gravitate towards a plate of greens, devoid of flavor. The word “diet” carries a negative connotation with it that conjures images of eating foods that may be wholesome, but also wholly unsatisfying. That’s unfortunate, because going on a diet is not the same thing as maintaining a healthy diet. A healthy diet is a lifestyle, and aside from all the physical benefits, the link between a good diet and mental health is undeniable.

As is the case with the links between mental health and aspects of life such as exercise and sleep, we continue our series of strategies for mental health self-care with a look at how sustaining a healthy diet can lead to countless mental health benefits. The bottom line is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to some draconian eating routine in order to consider your diet healthy. It’s quite possible and achievable to reach a point where a good diet and mental health are both happening for you in positive and enjoyable ways.

Below we’re going to cover 5 ideas that may help you improve your diet such that you’re eating healthy without losing your enjoyment of food and drink.

1.    A Crash Diet Usually = “Crash and Burn”

Over the years, we’ve all heard about crash diets. Crash diets are often defined as those which drastically reduce a person’s overall caloric intake in order to lose a large amount of weight quickly. Generally speaking, crash diets do not work. According to several sources, approximately 80 percent of diets fail, and crash diets can actually work against you in the long run.

2.    Start With a Medically Guided Strategy

Instead of just deciding to eat nothing but kale and water for as long as possible, which could even be dangerous for some people, the best way to eat healthier and to lose weight if necessary is to speak with your doctor about what would work best for you. The most sustainable way to eat healthier is to make gradual, non-punitive changes that you can adapt to for the long haul. That starts with proper medical advice instead of adopting some fad diet that won’t last.

3.    Fit Your Healthy Diet Into Your Routine

An improved or healthy diet will not work if what you’re trying to achieve does not fit your lifestyle. For example, if you travel regularly for work, trying to incorporate more home-cooked meals into your food plan is not realistic. If you really do not like certain types of vegetables, don’t get into a diet that features them. Take a good look at how your routine works and then try to work better, healthier foods into your schedule and preferences.

4.    Eliminate the Junk Food Inventory

The best way to avoid eating foods you want to avoid is to simply not have them available to yourself. If you’re tired and just want to snack on something, you’ll make better choices if you have healthy, tasty foods on hand instead of junk food stacked up in the pantry.

5.    Treat Yourself Occasionally

Suffering does not lead to positive mental health. Instead, connect a good diet and mental health by treating yourself every now and then. Perhaps you could have dinner at your favorite restaurant every couple of weeks or have that sundae that you love once a month – whatever it is, reward yourself for the progress you’re making.

A Good Diet and Mental Health: Don’t Sacrifice Flavor

As we mentioned above, achieving the balance between a good diet and mental health does not have to be a miserable experience. There are countless examples of healthy foods that are also delicious. Many of them are also versatile enough to work for main dishes, side dishes, snacks or even desserts. Below are a handful of examples:

1.    Berries

Hundreds of different types of desserts are made with fruits. Fruits contain natural sugars that are sweet and savory, and websites such as EatingWell.com contain several pages of ideas for desserts and snacks that contain fruit. We’ve even discussed how fruit can improve a person’s mental health, so try something like this to add a healthy touch of sweets to your day.

2.    Nuts

Not all fat is bad fat: Any nutritionist will tell you that nuts such as pistachios and almonds contain heart-healthy fats. These nuts can be beneficial if enjoyed in moderation. Not to mention, heart-healthy work great in combination with healthy berries and other fruits in a plethora of ways.

3.    Avocados

As is the case with different types of nuts, avocados are loaded with what are considered healthy types of fat that provide several nutritional benefits. As is also the case with the other items on this list, avocados are an extremely versatile food that can be used in a variety of different ways that are delicious.

4.    Popcorn

Many of us may think of popcorn as unhealthy, and that is true if you load it up with salt and butter. However, there are healthy types of popcorn that are very low in calories and high in fiber that are also tasty. Just skip the piles of salt and butter, of course.

5.    Yogurt

Yogurt not only contains healthy types of fats, but it’s also a great source of protein, which will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time than carbs. Once again, yogurt is an extremely versatile food that can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack or incorporated with fruits and nuts to make a delicious desert.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

A good diet goes a long way towards an improved quality of life, and that includes mental health. If you eat well, you’ll feel well, and if you feel well, your mental health will often wind up in a good place. It all connects, which is why we’re hoping that the information we’re putting out there will help some find those missing pieces and then find peace of mind.

If you or a loved one is struggling beyond the point where a good diet and mental health is the only connection you need, then you should contact us to find out if we can help. We’re here to take your call and help you find the right resource, whether that involves a stay with us or not.

Contact us today to get that process started.

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