The importance of eating healthily is known to us all. Without the right diet, it is hard to live the life we would all like to, keeping energy levels high and being able to do the things we enjoy. However, it is not all about the physical benefits of a healthy diet. Eating the right things can have a beneficial effect on your mental well-being too.
The truth is that mental health and physical health are interconnected. If you are eating too little, or too much of the wrong thing, then you are going to suffer mentally for it as well as physically. Your brain requires nourishment every bit as much as your body, and a lack of protein in your diet can result in the onset or aggravation of depression.
If you suffer from depression, then one of the main negative effects of the illness is a lack of energy, a situation which affects your ability to fight the condition. Eating the right things is important, and while often depression sufferers will feel that they do not want to eat at all it is important that they make the effort. Rather than eating “comfort food” – which is rarely very comforting – getting some fresh fruit and veg, as well as carbohydrates from pasta or potatoes can help.
Drinking plenty of fluid is also important for mental health. Ideally, five glasses or more of water a day will prevent you from becoming dehydrated and depriving your body and mind of the fuel that is so important. Having the energy and the sharpness to send the symptoms of depression packing is essential, and your diet will play a big part in this.
Many people feel that the problem with healthy eating is simply that it is not interesting enough – while salads and vegetables are all well and good, there is little sparkle to them. And while this is a view that is easy to sympathise with, the honest truth is that there are plenty of interesting options if you know where to look. Sometimes all you need is something a little bit different.
Geography, weirdly, is something that has a bearing on typical diets. In many western countries, the climate is cold and rainy, and we are conditioned to eat heavier foods that are not so easily digested – we are expected to have a little more “meat on our bones”. And so conversely, trying cuisine from a hotter climate might be the key.
India, for example, is a country where the weather is invariably hot, and spice is a major ingredient in the cuisine of that country. Partly this is because it grows there and is easily affordable, and additionally spice in a diet makes it more readily digestible and doesn’t add fat. Good Indian food is a very worthwhile option in a healthy diet.
Of course, any food if eaten to excess will cause you to gain weight. But mixing up your diet to give it an international flavor will keep things interesting, give you a range of nutrients which will be good to your body and will get you thinking about food in a different way – which will be beneficial in the long run.
Although it is generally accepted that the only truly reliable way to avoid weight gain is to eat healthily and exercise, the truth is that for many people, this seems like a hell of a grind. It takes a lot of effort, and it can be a while before you see substantial results from it – so taking a short cut becomes more attractive.
The most disturbing “alternative” to eating healthily is eating disorders. Most commonly, anorexia is chosen by people who feel that healthy eating still has too many calories involved. Although associated primarily with teenage girls and young women, anorexia is not limited to that section of society.
Bulimia, a disorder from the same family as anorexia, is becoming more and more common. Bulimia sufferers will eat where anorexics starve themselves, and will often binge to the point where they are uncomfortably full before inducing vomiting to ensure that food is not digested. While both anorexia and bulimia do allow sufferers to lose weight and keep it off, they carry very real dangers.
Although being slim is considered to be the glittering prize by many, it is at a price. If you are not eating the right nutrients, or are purging them through vomiting, it is impossible to keep clear, healthy skin and hair, and your energy levels will go through the floor. It is also unlikely that anorexics or bulimia sufferers will get to a point where they feel thin enough, and many can go to the point of killing themselves through malnutrition.