Five Things You Should Always Consume for Your Mental Health

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’m kicking things off with five of my favorite things we should all be consuming for better mental health. A few months ago, I shared five health imposters that harm our health, and I decided to expand on that list with the five things we need in this latest podcast episode. You can listen to the full episode or keep reading below.

Remember, your body needs to feel safe to heal and thrive. That’s true for emotional safety, and it’s absolutely true for physiological safety. Unfortunately, much of our modern lifestyle habits are keeping your body in an unsafe, stressed out state, including the food that is habitually consumed (or not consumed).

So I’ve rounded up a list of the five things that I believe everyone, everywhere should be consuming for improved mental function. There are so many more things I could add to the list, but these are some of the things that tend to be the most beneficial for my clients, as well as my own healing journey.

There is hope! I’m not here to make you more stressed or kill your joy.

Let’s talk about five things everyone everywhere should be consuming for their mental health:

1. Drink mostly water. Anything other than water is a treat. While I know many people, myself included, benefit from coffee or tea in the morning or mid-morning for some added focus and other benefits of caffeine, you should be drinking mostly water, most of the time. Get your body hooked on it. This may surprise you, but I haven’t had a soda in 9 years. Getting the option off the table did wonders for my mental health and my sugar cravings. I just stopped. I do occasionally have adult beverages, but I’m very sensitive to anything overly sweet, especially in mixed cocktails. Water is where it’s at. Hydration helps with focus, decreases anxiety, supports cellular health (which we need for brain communication), and helps with snacking in between meals.

2. Eat foods that support neurotransmitter function. Everything you eat, drink, think, and do impacts your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that impact how we feel. How we feel impacts what we do and how we show up in life. When we’re talking about creating serotonin, dopamine, GABA, or other neurotransmitters that tell our body we are safe and not anxious, we need specific raw materials to create those neurotransmitters. Foods that support serotonin production are foods like….beef, chicken eggs, quality dairy, nuts and seeds, oats, and bananas. Eating foods high in protein in the morning helps with dopamine production. Cruciferous veggies and veggies high in sulfur are great for dopamine like brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower kale, onions and garlic. Dark chocolate is great for serotonin and dopamine

It’s also important to get prebiotic fiber that nourishes healthy gut bacteria in order to further support the creation of neurotransmitters. All veggies are great for this.

3. Eat animal protein and fats. This is a non-negotiable. I believe the vegan movement of the last ten years is winding down because it has caused so many health issues. Initially people feel great eating mostly plants, because they’re not going through the drive through for super sized value meals anymore. Duh. But when you eliminate animal fats and protein for too long, it takes a toll on brain health because you’re not getting enough B12, methionine, tyrosine – these are crucial for methylation, for mitochondrial health, for energy – period.

4. Adopt a principle of checking in with what your body needs. Whether you need more sleep, more slow movement like yoga, more nature walks, more time in the sun, or more vegetables – your needs will change throughout the month – especially if you’re a female. Your needs will be different than anyone else’s. It is extremely empowering to learn what your body needs and to have a choice to support it. I will speak for myself and many of you listening – we haven’t always been given a choice as to what our bodies need. This is something that hit me hard at yoga recently, as I was encouraged to move at my own pace and breath into a movement that is comfortable for me, and modify it if needed. Learning to practice yoga has been a huge step for me being able to choose for my own body. Thanks to medical trauma, sexual trauma, diet culture and cultural expectations of what a female body should be and do, I have lived at the mercy of others’ expectations. But these days, I’m learning what feels safe for my body, and I’m checking in with it to make sure it’s okay to support me.

5. Get enough rest. Sleep issues are a major cause for concern with my clients, but we have to keep in mind that good sleep starts in the morning. Are you getting any natural sunlight in your day? That helps! Making sleep hygiene a priority is a huge one too. Dim the lights in the evening, take care not to be exposed to too bright of light or blue light from screens. Wear a sleep mask, keep your sleeping environment cool and dark. Wind down with an adaptogen drink with ashwagandha or other calming herbs, quit eating 2-3 hours before bed, make sure your dinner meal has adequate carbs so you feel restful and not hangry. My favorite product for sleep is called Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers. It contains B6 in the best form, plus l theanine, GABA, 5 HTP, glycine, taurine, and melatonin – a powerful cocktail for mental health balance and better sleep. Spend some time talking to your spouse or a loved one before bed, or journal out your feelings. If you’re going through a period of intense stress, shoot for 10 hours of time in bed. Will you be sleeping the whole time? Maybe not. But prep for time where you are actively winding down to support your body’s stress response and recovery process which happens as we sleep.

And that sums it up. I’d love to hear from you – what item above helps your mental health?

Looking for more tools and tips? Check out my Resources tab for some downloadables that will help your healing journey!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s