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You are what you eat: Mental Health Edition

August 17, 2018

Erin here! This week at CincyStatofBeing it’s all about mental health. Mental health awareness is a HUGE part of my life. It is actually how I met Mer in the first place. I’ve always been a mental health activist, and after experiencing my own anxiety I’m even more passionate about the topic. I love sharing my tips for battling anxiety and improving overall mental health. After much trial and error, I have learned the best foods for me to eat to help me maintain optimal mental health. Below is my story with anxiety and how food is a crucial part of how I manage anxiety every single day.

 

 

 

There are some mornings when I wake up and immediately feel the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress wash over me. It’s unpredictable. There are two types of people when it comes to food and anxiety. Some people cannot stop eating, and other people cannot get themselves to eat a thing. I’m the latter.  My first year of college during a bout of anxiety I was skipping a ton of meals. My blood sugar would drop and I couldn't focus or work as hard as I usually could. My anxiety began to take over my life because it affected everything I did.

 

On top of a number of things that I did, I started to shift my nutrition. I focused on not eating junk when I was anxious, and I decided to eat foods that helped me feel better. That’s when I found this article and learned there are specific foods that can improve mental health.

 

While normally my body reacts well to coffee, on extremely stressful days, caffeine is my enemy. When I feel worked up and anxious, I skip the coffee and grab my HydroFlask. Drinking plenty of water improves my mental state tremendously. It makes me feel fuller, more hydrated, helps me stay focused, and reduces headaches. Another liquid that I try and drink is green tea. We all know green tea has numerous benefits, but a lot of times we’re quick to reach for a cup of brew instead. It helps me to pause and remember by intentionally choosing what I put in my body, I’m practicing true self-care. By taking care of my body with lots of water and choosing tea over a coffee jolt, I’m caring for my mental state.

 

Another tactic is to try foods high in antioxidants. This includes acai, blueberries, walnuts, cranberries, etc. Antioxidants help me start out my day on the right track. Because sometimes it is hard for me to eat, I try and eat food that keeps me full and tastes good. A banana, almonds, and seeds are all snacks that keep me full but also help my mind. Another piece of advice I can give is to take probiotics every day. Studies have shown that when people take probiotics, their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics. A great source of probiotics is kombucha! Finally, I tend to end my days with a piece of dark chocolate. It doesn’t just taste good, but is also proven to boost your mood. So, if you need another excuse to eat dark chocolate, here you go!

 

 

Everyone has different coping mechanisms. Experiment with what different foods help you and work for your well being. It will take time, but once you find foods that can help your mental state, it can be life changing. Food has a tremendous effect on mental health. It is important to not just take care of your body, but your mind too. Mental health effects every single person and no matter what your journey has been with mental health, it is important to take care of it.

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