When it comes to mental health – a massive topic in recent times – it’s brilliant that there are an abundance of resources out there which can give people all sorts of help and ways of coping.
However I find it interesting to note that recently, at a mental-health specific event I was given a very thorough list of these resources which featured around 10 separate alcohol abuse support groups, and one single group for educating in how good nutrition can help with mental disorders.
How alcohol is treated and how normal/expected it is to drink is another issue altogether really and too big to get into here – instead this is another moment in a long list of occurrences that have highlighted to me how little importance is actually put on the difference that food intake makes.
From the term “healthy eating” bening sold to us as a hard, unachievable challenge (surely we should just be calling healthy eating ‘eating’?), to the horribly contradictory information surrounding food that’s presented by the media, to PTs & health professionals making things worse by pushing their own opinions, products, or hard-to-follow diets. It’s genuinely no wonder that the majority of people struggle, or have an unhealthy relationship with food.
Eating a full and nutritious diet could be so, so simple and it affects more than just weight eg. brain function, organ function, chemical balance within the body and mind. I’m not saying that nutrition is a blanket cure for all mental illnesses but it’s a hell of a good place to begin, and the fact that Food (capital F) has been demonized, made to seem unappealing, and become yet another stress in life goes a long way to explain the current very poor state of public health.
Here’s a quote taken from a page on mentalhealth.org.uk
“One of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors in the development of major trends in mental health is the role of nutrition.”
What’s interesting about that is the page this quote was taken from is nearly impossible to find. The website as a whole is full of great information on coping tips, resources, and blog posts on how to look after yourself, yet there is no section of the site dedicated to nutrition, and a huge lack of nutrition-related information despite the above statement!
Food intake, and a regular intake of a wide variety of the vitamins, minerals, and overall nutrients that our bodies require have been proven to increase mood, sleep patterns, energy levels, and physical wellbeing. Healthy food choices are not hard to come by, not expensive, and are available in abundance. Speak to somebody who you trust about how you can improve your nutrition through real food and how to make it as simple as possible. I promise you it can make a difference to your life.
For information regarding how nutrition will help with a particular mental health issues, please visit this website:
Food For The Brain are a charitable foundation raising awareness of the importance of optimum nutrition in mental health. They work to inform and organisations and empower individuals to change their diet and lifestyle and take greater control of their own mental health.
If you, or someone you know, might have been affected by an eating disorder, here’s some places where you can find information or discuss the issue with somebody:
Beat is the UK’s leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders.
Men Get Eating Disorders Too – a national charity raising awareness of eating disorders in men, also providing peer support services for men affected by eating disorders.
Written by me: Keith Fairburn
Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.
Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.