Do you have a food related goal for 2019? Maybe you want to lose weight, want to eat a healthier diet, or want to feel like you have more energy. What about wanting to improve your sleep? Or your memory? Or maybe your mental health? When it comes to food, what we put into our body is just as important for our mental health as it is our physical health. Those all important nutrients that fuel our body also provide ‘brain food’. But if we are feeling stressed, lacking energy, feel fuzzy headed, then making changes can seem even harder.
I decided to specialise in mental health and nutrition for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m fascinated about the link between our gut and our brains (one for another day). Secondly, I knew that I wanted to really focus on what simple, manageable changes in diet can do for our health. Keeping things simple can be important in helping people make changes to their physical health but it is ESSENTIAL when we are looking at mental health. If you are feeling stressed and exhausted then complicated change can be overwhelming. This type of change can add to your stress levels.
Whether I am working with people on a one to one basis, delivering a webinar, a workshop or a group programme, I always think about where people are at and what else they have going on in their lives. I try to pack in plenty of suggestions for simple change, letting people decide what might work for them. Below I share five of my favourite tips for supporting good mental and physical health. If you are interested in any particular aspects of nutrition for mental health and wellbeing you might want to check out my webinars and workshops.
Spice up your life! I adore herbs and spices. They give an instant flavour boost to anything that I am cooking and definitely helps with avoiding the ‘food rut’ trap. But herbs and spices are also nutrient powerhouses. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. Many have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is increasingly being tied to a number of chronic physical health conditions such as heart disease but is also linked to mental health issues.
You can combine this one with your ‘one new thing a week’ to experiment with using more herbs and spices. Add cinnamon or ginger to your porridge, smoothie or even hot chocolate. Try adding a teaspoon of ground cumin to a chilli or 1 tbsp tarragon to eggs.
As with any change, this one is about starting with where you are at. I love cooking and genuinely find time in the kitchen relaxing at the end of a busy day. I absolutely know that this is not everyone’s experience, and even I have days when I just want something quick and easy. I also love eating out as this is where I get a lot of inspiration for meals to try at home.
If you are a keen cook then look at which ‘shop bought’ ingredients you are still relying on and consider whether any of these are worth making at home. For me pesto and houmous were two things that I used a lot but would buy pre-made. Making them myself meant I could vary ingredients (that variety again!) and reduce the salt. I also knew I was using a really good cold pressed olive oil.
If cooking is absolutely not your thing then maybe commit to cooking one meal a week. This could be something quick on a midweek night when you don’t feel like eating out and you would usually reach for a ready meal or takeaway. A number of the recipes on my blog have been designed with exactly this situation in mind. Food that can be thrown together with minimal effort but will be nourishing. Maybe start with my effortless baked eggs (If eggs aren’t your thing you could just serve up the beans in the recipe with toast).
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.