Living with a mental health problem can often have an impact on day to day life, making things that others might not think about a bit more difficult. We've put together these tips and guides to help you cope with everyday things like money, work, university and more.
This section explores how your diet can affect your mood, and provides tips for improving your mental wellbeing through healthy eating.
Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.
Improving your diet may help to:
Tips to help you explore the relationship between what you eat and how you feel.
If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady.
Slow-release energy foods include: pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
"I made a decision that I was going to [...] make positive lifestyle changes to try and live as happily and stress-free as I could. I gave up red meat and try to eat no sugar [and drink] hardly any alcohol."
If you don’t drink enough fluid, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which puts no one in a good mood).
Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy.
Eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients.
Sometimes your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you're stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly.
Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.
Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds.
Whatever your diet, why not do some research into other foods that contain protein, and find something new to try? For ideas on healthy recipes, visit NHS Choices.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep (especially if you have it before bed), or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly.
Caffeine is in: tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks.
Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.
Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.
Some foods can be dangerous to eat if you're taking certain medications. For example:
Before prescribing you any medication, your doctor should fully explain any possible risks or side effects, so you can make an informed decision. If you are currently taking medication and are unsure or worried about what foods and drinks to avoid, it might help to speak to you GP or ask at your local pharmacy. (See our pages on psychiatric medications for more information.)
For more information how to avoid interactions between food, drink and medication, see the American Food and Drug Administration information on drug and food interactions.
For more information about healthy eating and how food can affect your mood, visit the British Dietetic Association website to read their range of food fact sheets.