If you’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat, ” we propose a new take: “You feel like what you eat.” The relationship between diet and mental health is complicated and still not fully understood. There is increasing evidence that what we eat reflects how we feel. If you’re looking to handle your mental health better, eating the right foods the right way can make all the difference.

Tips on eating better for mental health

Establish a dietary schedule

It doesn’t only matter what you eat; it matters how you eat. Establishing a schedule for your daily intake is one of the most important parts of eating well for your mind. If you haven’t eaten for several hours, your blood sugar can drop. Eating consistent, smaller meals during the day helps keep your mood consistent, especially if you notice that your mood changes with your blood sugar, as many people do.

If you’re one of nearly 80% of adults in the United States who consume caffeine each day, this tip is for you. Caffeine is a stimulant that can reduce sleep if ingested too close to bedtime. It takes about 30 minutes to take effect, but it has a half-life of about 6 hours and remains in the system for much longer. We recommend drinking any caffeine before 4 PM to optimize your sleep quality after 10 PM.

Give good fats their rightful place

Your body requires the right balance of healthy fats to keep performing optimally. Your brain, muscles, and other organs need fats from nuts, fish, dairy products, eggs, and olive oil. However, that doesn’t mean that all fats are necessary for your body to function. Trans fats wreak havoc on your cholesterol, which can continue to impact both your heart and brain health.

Include protein in each meal

Protein doesn’t always have to be meat, but you should always include protein with every meal. Most protein sources contain an essential amino acid that your brain uses to aid in mood regulation. Dairy products contain protein, as do beans, soy, lentils, nuts, tofu, and any source of meat.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration and symptoms of anxiety have been linked in recent studies. Up to 60% of the adult human body is water. Researchers recommend that men drink about 15.5 cups of fluid a day and about 11.5 cups for women.

Eat some meals with a group

There are many psychological benefits of eating food with others. This can help bring regularity to your life, slow down your food consumption, and make healthier choices.

Harness the mental power of your diet

Making wise dietary choices can go a long way for your physical and mental health. We are here to help you make that next step to better overall health! If you have more questions about implementing these tips to help your mental health, reach out to the health professionals at EHE.