Eating to Support Your Mental Health

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, May 24, 2023
By coralgables_admin

By Alli Griffiths, Mental Health Counselor, Practicum

You have probably heard the age-old adage, ‘you are what you eat.’ This phrase used to annoy me. It felt like nagging. But the older I get, the more I understand how true this is and how important it is to eat well.

watermelon and berries

Why is it important to eat well?

Researchers have confirmed connections between our gut health and our mental health. Almost all of us have experienced an upset stomach due to stress or anxiety. In this scenario, our mind is affecting our gut. But our gut also affects our mind. And when our gut is happy, so are we.

Which foods should I avoid?

Foods that may irritate your gut include fried foods, highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and foods that are high in sugar. Bad news for all my French fry lovers – fried potatoes are considered the worst in terms of contributing to depression and anxiety.

Moreover, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that can irritate your gut. Thus, I suggest limiting your soda intake to improve your mood. I recommend sparkling water with no artificial sweeteners as a bubbly alternative.

Which foods should I eat more often?

Probiotics are great for supporting a healthy gut. Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that keep your body functioning optimally. They can be found in yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, garlic, and onions. Additionally, research suggests that healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, fatty fish, and walnuts can help fight depression.

In summary, if you struggle with low mood or ‘feeling down,’ try improving your diet to include more nutrient dense foods and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if eating well does not significantly improve your mood, you are still giving your body the nutrients it needs, which is a win in itself.

Lastly, I know it is not pleasant to hear that some of our favorite foods may be holding us back. So, I will let you in on a little secret… I ate French fries today.

And although I am well-aware of the negative effects that fried foods, especially fried potatoes, have on my mental health, I accept that I am human, and I am not perfect. Sometimes I eat French fries. And that is okay.

Life is not about being perfect. It’s about falling in love with the process of self-improvement and trying to get 1% better every day.

Will you start today?

Quote of the Week


“One day or day one. You decide.” – Paulo Coelho