NOURISH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
What we eat—or don’t eat—can have a big impact on how we feel. Ever felt ‘hangry’ on the way home from work?
This doesn’t mean counting calories or restricting ourselves – diet culture is not mentally healthy. And Ride Don’t Hide strongly believes that wellness comes in all shapes and sizes and abilities.
It does mean paying attention to what we fuel our brains and bodies with, and making the most of the options available to us. It means eating for fuel AND for fun. It means taking joy and comfort in the things we find delicious AND giving our minds and bodies the nourishment we need to thrive.
Your Zehrs Dieticians have prepared some healthy and yummy options to nourish our minds as well as our bodies. Learn more here then join us for a livestream cooking demonstration on June 28th, hosted by our partners at the PC Health App to fuel you over the Ride Don’t Hide finish line!
EAT WELL, FEEL BETTER?
Whether or not you have struggled with mental illness yourself, chances are the last year has challenged your mental health. Contrary to popular belief, mental illness and mental health are not one in the same. Mental illness includes diagnosed conditions that alter the way a person thinks, feels, their mood or behaviour, such as conditions like depression. Mental health on the other hand refers to the complete psychological, emotional, and social well-being of an individual. Mental health can also impact how we feel, think, and act. Regardless of having a mental illness, anyone can experience periods of poor mental health during their lifetime.
Dr Brock Chisholm, first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) wisely said “without mental health there can be no true physical health” (Kollapa, Henderson, & Kishore, 2013, para. 1). Now more than ever we are understanding the fundamental link between mental and physical health. Think of it as a two-way street, having poor mental health puts you at greater risk for developing chronic health conditions; just like having chronic health conditions puts you at greater risk for developing poor mental health.
FEED YOUR BODY, FEED YOUR MIND
Just like with physical health, nutrition plays a key role in maintaining and supporting your brain health throughout your life span. Your Zehrs Dietitians have outlined the WHY and the WHAT with 5 key budget-friendly nutrition strategies to support your mental health anytime.
1. Eat the Rainbow
Colourful fruits and vegetables provide our body and brain with different vitamins, minerals and antioxidant to help them function at their best.
Tip: Aim to fill ½ your plate at most meals. Fresh, frozen, canned and dried are all great options.
2. Include Plant Proteins
Our brains need protein to build the chemicals that help control our thoughts and feelings. Plant proteins, including beans, peas, lentils, soy foods, nuts and seeds also provide us with fibre. Protein and fibre work together to keep us full so we don’t end up feeling HANGRY.
Tip: Not sure where to start with plant-based eating? Check out the 7 Days to Plant-Based Eating program on the PC Health app.
3. Be kind to your gut
Our gut health and mental health may be closely linked. Look after your gut by including probiotic yogurt or kefir in your diet. These foods will add the good bacteria we need in our digestive system. Including fibre from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, nuts and seeds will keep those good bacteria happy and healthy.
Tip: Smoothies and yogurt parfaits are great ways to get both probiotics and a boost of fibre.
4. Choose Whole Grains
Choosing whole grains over refined grains (think white bread and rice) will help control our blood sugars and therefore our energy levels. Refined grains tend to cause our blood sugars to rise and drop quickly which can make us feel tired, irritable and depressed.
Tip: Fill ¼ of your plate at lunch and dinner with whole grains such as whole grain pasta, quinoa, brown rice, and more.
5. Omega 3
Omega 3s are a type of healthy fats that have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also incorporated in the structure of the brain and help the brain send messages between it’s cells. Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, arctic char, sardines, herring and trout), canola oil, walnuts and flax seeds are sources of these healthy fats.
Tip: Try to fill ¼ of your plate with fatty fish twice a week.
About the authors: Alex and Rebecca are both Dietitians for Zehrs. Alex works out of the Imperial Guelph and Fergus locations while Rebecca works out of the Cambridge Centre and South Cambridge locations in Ontario. Both Dietitians obtained a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition and Masters of Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Alex and Rebecca see clients for a variety of medical and nutritional concerns, but both have a special interest in nutrition for mental health. You can book an appointment with Alex or Rebecca here.
Both Alex and Rebecca are participating in the Ride Don’t Hide campaign. You can follow along with their journey on their Facebook and Instagram pages:
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