Path to Nutritional Health & Wellness
Things to remember and quick resources
Nutrition & Moods
Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7/365, even while you’re asleep. Your brain requires a constant supply of fuel and that “fuel” comes from the foods you eat and that fuel makes all the difference. Simply put, what you eat directly affects your brain and, ultimately, your mood.
If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition consequences are to be expected. Pay attention to how eating different foods makes you feel, not just in the moment, but the next day. Keeping a daily food journal may help you identify the foods that impact your moods both positively and negatively.
Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar and see how you feel. Slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.
When some people “go clean,” they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods that are known to enhance inflammation.
Addiction Recovery & Nutrition
Those who are addicted to a substance like drugs or alcohol will have put their bodies through a heavy toll, and proper nutrition can help them recover, not only to restore their health but also to help them be stronger for their recovery. Those who had a behavioral addiction like sex or gambling can feel more centered with proper nutrition, so that hormonal swings do not cause them to feel stress that could lead to their addictive behaviors.
Get your body used to a regular eating schedule. That means eating three meals a day – or eating every three to four hours. You need to eat on a schedule, even if you aren’t hungry.
But skipping meals can lead to:
Sweet cravings in the evenings.
Ending up snacking lots in the evenings or in the following days to “make up” for the lost energy.
Not having energy, concentration or focus because you have skipped a meal.
Feeling hangry, i.e hungry and angry… and that may just cause you to lash out or get angry or irritated at those around you.
The best thing is to have a routine with your eating in general, even if somedays may vary from that routine. If you aren’t a huge breakfast person, that is ok…. You can eat brunch or a later breakfast instead. Or if you are someone who prefers an earlier dinner… or maybe someone who prefers a later dinner, that is ok as well. Just that you have some form of routine and regular meal times.
So why eat regular meal times?
It will give you energy throughout the day
It can minimize cravings because you will energize and fuel your body with your main meals and snacks
Typically your main meals and snacks will be composed of healthy foods, which also helps you get all your vitamins and minerals you need. Whereas spontaneous snacks chosen out of hanger or extreme hunger due to skipping meals are most often not the most nutritious…. Unless you are someone who naturally grabs a fruit or some nuts in those panic-hunger moments.
Better concentration and focus throughout the day. Also with a regular routine with your meal times your body will adapt to this and you will feel hungry at those times.
Your body feels “safer”/more balanced if you eat at similar times each day, compared to one day eating 3 meals, another day eating 6 meals. One day eating your first meal at 10 am the next day eating your first meal at 6am
Focus on eating a balanced meal that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your meals don’t have to be perfect; they just need to be balanced. A healthy eating pattern is one that provides enough of each essential nutrient from nutrient-dense foods, contains a variety of foods from all of the basic food groups, and focuses on balancing calories consumed with calories expended to help you achieve and sustain a healthy weight.
Healthy Diet Benefits
- Heart health
- Reduced cancer risk
- Better mood
- Improved gut health
- Improved memory
- Weight loss
- Diabetes management
- Strong bones and teeth
- Getting a good night’s sleep
Quick and easy tips for a healthier diet:
- Replace soft drinks for water and herbal tea
- Eat no meat at least 1 day a week
- Ensure each meal consists of about 50% fresh produce
- Replace cow milk for plant-based milk
- Eat whole fruits instead of juices
- Avoid processed meat
- Eat more lean protein.
Eat the Right Amount
Eating just enough for each meal. Don’t eat too little, and don’t eat too much. If you aren’t sure how much is “just enough,” you should get comfortable with calorie counts and break down your daily needs by meal. Prevent overeating by reducing your portion sizes, eating fewer processed foods and orienting your diet around whole food.
Harmful Effects of Overeating
- May promote excess body fat
- May disrupt hunger regulation
- May increase disease risk
- May impair brain function
- May make you nauseous
- May cause excessive gas and bloating
- May make you sleepy
Get Plenty of Sleep
Get plenty of sleep, and get regular sleep. If it helps, creates a sleep schedule. Put yourself to bed at the same time each night, and force yourself to wake up at the same time each morning. Eventually, your body will adjust, and you’ll have a healthy sleep cycle and a healthy metabolism. Missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep does more than make you feel grumpy and groggy.
Long Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation:
- Memory issues
- Trouble with thinking and concentration
- Mood changes
- Weakened immunity
- High blood pressure
- Risk for diabetes
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive
- Risk of heart disease
- Poor balance
Tips for better sleep
- Follow a regular schedule
- Create a calming bedtime routine.
- Create a comfortable environment
- Minimize caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
- Reduce use of electronics
- Be more active
- Practice meditation
Establish a Daily Routine
Working, cleaning, cooking, working out, and taking care of family members are just a few of the things that we do every day, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It can feel impossible to mark everything off your to-do list, especially if you’re struggling with a mental health condition like major depression, substance use disorder, or traumatic stress disorder.
When it comes to mental health, here’s how a daily routine can make a significant difference.
- Daily Routines help alleviate anxiety.
- Daily Routines promote healthy habits.
- Daily Routines help combat burnout.
Learn more about Daily Routines and Mental Illness
Routines, even simple ones, can be important anchors to maintaining good mental health and dealing with anxiety.
Simple routines to organize your day include:
- Wake up the same time every day
- Shower as if you were going out
- Dress for the day (even in casual and comfortable attire)
- Eat meals at regular times
- Keep to a daily schedule of exercise
- Limit your use of electronic devices or TV time
- Go to bed at the same time each night
Why routines are important:
- They create structure – A daily routine often begins with the alarm clock ringing to start our day, and the routines follow from there with showering, brushing our teeth, dressing and grabbing coffee on the way to the office.
- They give us a sense of accomplishment – Routines typically have a beginning and an end, and we plan our day and time around being able to prioritize them and accomplish the most important tasks of the day for ourselves and our families.
- They let us know how we are doing – Even small routines like showering, brushing our teeth, and dressing are important parts of our day. Since the pandemic, many of us have taken a more liberal approach to those daily routines, such as working from home in sweatpants that were once reserved for weekends. Although this change is subtle, it can have a big impact, making you feel sluggish or lazy.
- They let people around us know how we are doing – Routines also are indications to people around us of how we are doing. Before the pandemic, if you didn’t show up for work people would worry, or if you didn’t come out of your house for weeks friends would look in on you or be concerned about your well-being. With no routine, there are a lot of unknowns that can cause concern or anxiety.
In addition to your regular routine, try including new activities that can become a healthy part of your daily routine. Try adding some deep breathing exercises to your day which can be relaxing, or consider trying meditation that can be calming and improve your resilience.
Routines can improve your mental health and provide wide-reaching psychological benefits—from alleviating symptoms of mental disorders to managing insomnia. Routines aren’t a cure-all for mental health issues, in addition to creating a routine, individuals experiencing mental health symptoms should explore other treatment options, including:
Therapy: Working with a qualified therapist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or mental health counselor can help individuals with mental illness learn valuable coping mechanisms, manage symptoms, and build resilience. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the more effective forms of psychotherapy therapy, will help you take control of your emotional health by changing patterns of thoughts and behaviors.
Support Groups: Many people with mental illnesses consider support groups a helpful tool on the road to wellness. Sharing your experiences in a safe and confidential setting, you can foster interpersonal relationships, fight stigma, and gain hope. Support groups can be especially helpful for individuals struggling with substance abuse and traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic event such as child abuse, they can also help individuals who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness or chronic disease.
Educational Resources: Educational resources can help patients and loved ones understand mental health disorders and provide emotional health support.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers numerous resources, including NAMI Basics, NAMI FaithNet, NAMI Peer-to-Peer, NAMI Connection, NAMI Family-to-Family, and the NAMI Family Support Group.
Helplines: If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis or struggling with poor mental health, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate support. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911. Our Crisis Intervention information provides additional resources for assistance.
We know that it can be challenging to stick to a daily schedule. Whether you’re taking the first step in your mental health journey or transitioning to teletherapy, an experienced therapist at the Morgan Health Centers can help you manage your symptoms and develop strategies to improve your health & wellness.