Many people don’t really understand the link between what we eat, and our mental health – not just our physical health. It really is true: you are what you eat!
Did you know that much of our psychological happiness, stability of moods and positive motivational aspects of our lives are shaped by the types of foods we regularly eat?!
While many of us realise the importance of creating daily and weekly rituals – such as regular exercise, and healthy eating – we don’t always make it a priority. As a result, our bodies may not be able to support us to work, rest and play in the way that they should.
I have come up with a pyramid model (below), to demonstrate the psychology of improving both physical AND mental health. It identifies in a concrete visual way, the four key building blocks upon which to base our personal rituals.
Ultimately, if we want to live our lives full of inspiration, joy and vitality at the apex of our pyramid, then we need to consistently invest in the base – our body, maximising our physical power.
Healthy Body = Healthy Mind
The types of food we eat has a direct effect on our intellectual and emotional capabilities.
For example, if a person is deficient in key vitamins such as magnesium, zinc, and fish oil, it is likely that they will struggle to maintain consistently high levels of happiness. Instead, they may become prone to bouts of increased irritation, depression and anxiety.
In fact, I believe that it is so important to choose the right nutritional food for our minds and bodies, that I include “Food Coaching” as part of my personalised services to interested selected clients. In the interest of better mental AND physical health, I like to invite people to commit to the physical health and vitality benefits of choosing a better diet.
Based on the pyramid approach, I provide health and wellness psychological consultations, focusing on nutrition, stress management, goal setting and work-life balance.
We are blessed to live in a country where we have a fantastic variety of both fruits and vegetables available throughout the year.
Making Better Food Choices
Fruits and vegetables start to lose nutrients immediately after they are harvested, so the freshest produce is the best produce. It also tastes better and is better for the environment.
So it makes sense to shop for in-season foods for you and your family. Of course the other benefit is that it will be cheaper when in season. We have all seen the prices of fruit and vegetables fluctuate throughout the year, so buying when bountiful will give you the freshest, tastiest, most nutritious produce – AND leave you with money in your pocket.
It is often quicker too – if you are in the supermarket you will notice that most “specials” (in season) are grouped together at the front of the store.
Frozen or Fresh?
Did you know that frozen peas will often have a higher nutritional value, than the fresh peas in the supermarket? Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as helpful in your quest to develop a healthy body, and a healthy mind!
When shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables, ask questions like:
- Where has the produce come from?
- Is it local?
- How far has it travelled to be in store?
Remember, farmers markets are a great shopping alternative as produce is picked fresh by the farmer and sold directly to the consumer (no sitting on the supermarket shelves for days, after all the time spent travelling first to the warehouse, then to the store).
If you would like to find out more, or would like support in your quest to develop a healthy body AND a healthy mind, I welcome you to make an appointment with me.
Author: Peter Doyle, B Psych (Hons), MAPS, MCCOUNP, MCOP.
Peter is endorsed both as a Counselling Psychologist and Organisational Psychologist and has over 25 years’ experience in clinical, counselling and workplace settings, helping clients with a diverse range of personal, lifestyle and psychological wellbeing issues.
Peter is currently not practicing at M1 Psychology, find his details on his website: Guidelight Psychology.