7 helpful tips you need to know to better your mental health

Did you know that what we eat can affect our mental wellbeing? That’s right, our diet doesn’t just affect our physical health; research shows a link between what we eat and how we feel. 


For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we want to raise awareness about the impacts of diet on your mental wellbeing and how you can use food to lift your mood. Improving your diet and eating well may help to:

  • Improve your mood
  • Give you more energy
  • Help you think more clearly 


Eating well means having a balanced diet full of vegetables and nutrients. Follow these top tips by mental health charity Mind to try improve your mental wellbeing.

1. Eat Regularly

Eating regularly | Plate with a clock | Wooden Fork and spoon

If you eat at different times each day, your blood sugar will drop and you might feel tired. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels stable. Some slow-release energy foods are pasta, rice, oats, nuts and seeds.

Quick tips:

  • Eat breakfast to get the day off to a good start
  • Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out throughout the day
  • Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall quickly, like sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol

2. Stay hydrated

Stay hydrated | Benefits of stay hydrated | Glass water bottles

If you don’t drink enough fluid, you might find it hard to concentrate or think clearly.

Quick tip:

  • Try drinking the recommended 6–8 glasses of fluid a day. Water is the best option, but tea, coffee, juices and smoothies count towards your intake too. However, be aware that these contain caffeine and sugar which may not be best

3. Get your 5 a day 

Vegetable | 100 pics vegetables

Fruit and vegetables contain many of the vitamins, minerals and fibre we require to keep us both physically and mentally healthy. A good rule is to eat the rainbow: eat a variety of different coloured fruits and veggies to get a good range of nutrients.

Quick tips:

  • Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day
  • As a general rule, one portion is roughly the same as a handful, small bowl or a small glass

4. Look after your gut

Woman showing a heart with her hands next to her stomach| Looking after your gut  | How to look after your gut.

Sometimes, your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious, this can make your gut slow down or speed up. Eat plenty of fibre, drink plenty of fluids and exercise regularly for a healthy digestive system. Some foods which are good for your gut are fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, yoghurt and probiotics.

Quick tip: 

  • It might take your gut time to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly to give yourself time to adjust

5. Get enough protein

Different types of meat | what happens if you don t get enough protein  |  how to get enough protein

Protein contains amino acids which are chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. You can find protein in meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds.

Quick tip:

  • Why not try switching up your protein? You could find something new to try for a change

6. Manage your caffeine intake

Cup of Coffee | Heart rate graph with Coffee beans | Manage your caffeine intake

Caffeine is a stimulant which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. Caffeine is in tea, coffee, chocolate and fizzy drinks.

Quick tips: 

  • If you drink tea, coffee or fizzy drinks, try switching to decaffeinated versions
  • You can try to drink less caffeine or avoid it altogether

7. Eat the right fats 

Eat the right fats | Natural fats | Avocado oil | Organic Coconut oil | Chickpeas Fat | Seeds fat

Your brain needs fatty acids to keep it working well. So, it’s important to eat the right fats. Healthy fats are found in oily fish, poultry, nuts, olive and sunflower oils, seeds, avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs. 

Quick tip:

  • Try to avoid anything which lists 'trans fats' or 'partially hydrogenated oils' in the list of ingredients (such as some shop-bought cakes and biscuits). This kind of fat isn't good for your mood

For more information about how food can help to improve your mood, visit the British Dietetic Association to check out their food fact sheets.

#mentalhealthawarenessweek #mentalhealth #balanceddiet #eatwell #mind

Check out these articles for more information:

Diet and mental health

Food and mood

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