Have you ever treated yourself with something sugary to pep yourself up when feeling down? Your mood and energy may improve for a short period of time but this often passes quickly and turns into guilt.
Struggling with mental health can make it challenging to eat well. Lack of motivation, loss of appetite, irregular eating patterns, and the use of comfort eating as a coping strategy like mentioned above can all undermine weight management. We all know the benefits of nutrition on our physical health, but recent research has also found links between nutritional quality and mental health- particularly the risk of depression and anxiety.
Tips to maximise your mental health through food:
- Keep your eyes on the goal – Set yourself small, manageable daily and weekly goals that need to be done to help you achieve your longer term goals. You may like to write your goals down and have them in a visible spot to keep you motivated when short term gain from certain foods may seem more appealing.
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious food – Nothing ground breaking here but eating from each of the 5 core food groups not only helps to maintain interest in food but ensures the right balance of nutrients. Include healthy breads and cereals, lean proteins, vegetables, fruit, and dairy. The more colourful the vegetables, the better aim to create a rainbow on your plate!
- Set up a routine and eat regularly – Having regular meals helps keep blood sugar levels consistent and avoids food cravings. Too often we see clients skipping meals or snacks in an attempt to cut back on calories but it regularly leads to over eating and/or making poor choices at the next meal. We recommend 5-6 small meals each day.
- Include those healthy fats – Foods such as salmon, tuna, sardines, or enriched eggs, bread and milk are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been shown to have anti-depressant properties as well as a positive influence on brain function and memory. Aim to include fish at least 2-3 times per week.
- Limit caffeine intake – Excess caffeine, particularly in those who are sensitive can increase anxiety and contribute to insomnia. The equivalent of 2 cups of coffee or 4-5 teas per day is recommended.
- Have a plan – So you’ve identified the problem time of day, eating cues and highly desired foods. The next step is to find strategies that work best for you. You may consider seeking some more support in the form of a psychologist or beginning to break the habit by going out for exercise instead, taking up a hobby, chatting to a friend, or another activity you enjoy.
Are you wondering how to prep or maintain healthy eating habits throughout bariatric surgery? Chat to our team to help find the right plan for you to keep your body and mind in the best shape.