“Food & Mood” - A Salute to Wellness & National Nutrition Month

March 14, 2017
Written by Lyndsey Ellis

I started experimenting with a red meat-free regimen a few weeks ago. Although I love animals, this decision was more my way of atoning for coffee addiction than making a statement against the slaughter of domestic livestock. I figured if I couldn’t completely give up caffeine, why not try to cut back in other areas and reap similar benefits?

So far, I haven’t noticed as many physical differences as I have psychological differences and what I like to call ‘day quality’. Momentarily dealing with no red meat has been a mood booster that’s helped favorably re-shape how I navigate through the world each day. I’ve found it easier to concentrate and feel less fatigued between meals. And, while stress is still present, I’m not as prone to let it consume me, but rather allow it to fuel motivation.

March is National Nutrition Month and a good time for all of us to get serious about sustainable living. One sure way to do that is by being mindful of what we choose, or don’t choose, to put inside our bodies. While it’s no secret that what we eat determines our physical condition, the effect food has on our brain and spirit isn’t always highlighted.

According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), poor nutrition or limited access to nutrients can contribute to depression among other mood disruptions and mental health challenges. Supporting the body and mind with a variation of wholesome foods is essential to taking charge of your own wellness. Check out these advantages of a healthy eating plan:

Clarity

Research shows that your memory and productivity is directly impacted by what you eat.  Junk foods and processed meals may sound appetizing and can be quick fixes for an empty stomach, but they usually lead to mental drainage and an inability to focus. Ingesting foods with higher nutritional value, like nuts, lean meats, fruits, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables, produces better listening skills and effective decision-making.

Stamina

We’ve all run low on energy. It doesn’t feel very good. Vitality in the negative digits leads to sluggishness and irritability, a combination that can make you feel listless, not to mention socially unappealing. A trusted solution is upgrading your food menu for better sleep habits, which ultimately leads to higher energy levels and a stronger immune system. Also, spacing out meals helps prevent food coma from settling in and gives you the extra kick needed to function throughout the day.

Optimism

Eating poorly can be a blow to self-esteem. Not accessing enough nutrients impacts the way we feel about ourselves and damages our confidence level. And, when we aren’t seeing ourselves in the best light, it’s nearly impossible to empower others. Good nutrition boosts morale and gives you a positive attitude that’s both admirable and infectious.

Resistance

Lastly, as a mental health proponent, I believe eating healthy is one of the most radical forms of resistance to stigma and discrimination that a person can engage in. Being choosey about food promotes self-care and sends the message that your mind, spirit, and body are as valuable as anyone else’s.

When it comes to healthy eating habits, each person can explore their own unique routine. Fortunately, with the help of exercise, supportive self-talk, and yummy fish, nuts, and berries, it’s safe to say I’ve found mine.