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.
Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross is an internationally known author, speaker, expert, and pioneer of intergenerational trauma’s effect on one’s body, brain, and beliefs. A graduate of Andrew Weil’s Fellowship Program in Integrative Medicine, Dr. Ross is the CEO of The Anchor Program™, online coaching for food and body image issues including binge eating, substance use disorder, and emotional stress-eating.
The former head of the eating disorder program at internationally renowned Sierra Tucson, Dr. Ross is currently a consultant for United States treatment centers that want to include her unique integrative medicine approach to help clients recovering from eating disorders and substance use disorders. She is the author of three books, the most recent of which is The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook.
Download and listen to this episode here, or find wherever you get podcasts.
It’s the day after Halloween, and my dining room table is completely covered with candy. Some of my old favorites are featured: Reese’s pumpkins, peanut M&Ms, Milky Way, and Heath. In our house, my kids get to pick their favorite pieces, no more than ten (I’m flexible because the size varies), and the rest gets donated. Mom and Dad get to save a few as well, because ’tis the season, right?
I know there’s an intuitive eating movement to let kids have all the access and listen to their bodies for stopping cues, and I respect that… but it doesn’t line up with what we know about brain health. Big Food Patriarchy wants your kids (their consumers/users) hooked on candy for a lifetime, so of course they develop their products to hit the bliss point of food, without ever feeling the physiological satiation or urge to stop.
I’m all about teaching my kids to listen to their bodies, but we also have to understand the neurotransmitter hijack that occurs with these engineered food products and the long term impact on developing brains.
It’s not about willpower, discipline, or being able to eat intuitively. It’s about understanding that our brains are wired for survival. And anything that gets our serotonin and dopamine hitting harder and faster pumps up our norepinephrine to make us feel good in the moment – until we don’t anymore, and we need another stronger hit.
“People don’t make the connection between how they eat and how they feel emotionally through the brain. They don’t realize there is a connection to food and the brain and emotional well-being.”
Dr. Uma Naidoo is a board certified psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutrition specialist. She is the director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and also on faculty at Harvard Medical School.
In this fascinating episode, we discuss her exciting new book, This Is Your Brain On Food, which I highly recommend. Listen to the entire episode and subscribe wherever you get podcasts or listen here.
Key topics of our conversation include:
Dr. Naidoo’s journey as a psychiatrist and professional chef
How what we eat affects our brain
The origin of the gut/brain connection
The rise of mental health concerns
Food to avoid for mental well-being
Orthorexia and food obsession
How to add more diversity in your diet
The impact of caffeine and alcohol on mental health
So much more!
Learn more about Dr. Naidoo here. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @drumanaidoo
Find her book on Amazon or your favorite bookstore. This book is so helpful and needs to be part of your mental health library!
What do you do when your mental health is suffering and nothing you try helps? Are there options beyond the traditional treatment plans? Where can you find support?
#SameHere is an organization founded by Eric Kussin after he experienced 2 and a half years of suffering from a mental health crisis that briefly interrupted his career as a sports executive.
In this episode, you’ll learn Eric’s story in detail, and you’ll also hear from psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Pleener, who is the leader of the Same Here Psych Alliance and advocates for multiple healing modalities when it comes to psychiatry.
Listen here or listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!
Eric’s story and how he got to the root of his issues after digging through his trauma
How mental health is a continuum and the problem with using phrases like “stop the stigma”
The non-medication healing modalities that Same Here brings awareness to
The STARR exercises that improve mental fitness, as the “gym for the brain”
The importance of creating community support and awareness for mental health
Why you can’t use the same tool over and over to improve mental health – you need more!
Mental health treatment shouldn’t be a one size fits all plan.
The work Same Here is doing with schools and businesses