Carly Atkinson is a specialist dietitian, working for the Trust with people with mental health issues and learning disabilities.
Here are six top tips to ensure your diet is supporting both your mental and physical health.
1. Eat regular meals
A regular supply of carbohydrates is essential for your brain to function properly. Skipping meals may cause you to feel weak, tired and struggle with concentration. It might also lead to sugar cravings. Try to include some beans and lentils, granary bread, pasta, noodles, muesli, porridge, milk, yogurt and sweet potatoes in the diet, which all release energy slowly in the body to keep you going between meals.
2. Include the right fats
Fat is important for maintaining brain health, particularly the unsaturated varieties such as olive, rapeseed and flaxseed oils, nuts and seeds. Try to avoid using processed and packaged foods too often.
3. Include regular sources of protein
Protein is a source of tryptophan, which makes the ‘feel good’ substance serotonin in the brain. Sources include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, soya, Quorn, nuts, lentils and beans.
4. Include oily fish in your diet
The Omega 3 oils found in oily fish are not only good for physical health but research also suggests they may reduce depression rates. Try two to four servings a week of fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards, trout and fresh tuna. Limit this to two if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or likely to become pregnant in the future.
5. Include plenty of wholegrains, fruit and vegetable foods
These are rich in lots of the nutrients linked to good mental wellbeing. Wholegrain cereals nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables will reduce deficiencies which might negatively impact your mood.
6. Drink enough fluids
Even mild dehydration can impact your mood so ensure you have the recommended minimum of 6-8 glasses of fluid daily. Avoid highly caffeinated drinks. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect and can impact mood.