There is a profound interconnectedness between the health of the body and the mind. In the past decades, there has been emerging research suggesting a link between a balanced diet and the overall sense of wellbeing of the individual. The prevalence of mental health struggles in Australia is striking, where 15% of the population report experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress. According to Lifeline, 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide, which is more than double the road toll.
We do not know exactly why diet affects mental health, but it could be due to changes in blood glucose (sugar) levels, inflammation, or effects on the microorganisms that live in the gut (known as microbiome). Eating well also prevents some chronic diseases like diabetes, which also affect mental health.
It is common to experience both obesity and mental health issues together. For some people, obesity may contribute to developing certain mental health conditions, while for others mental health issues may lead to weight gain and obesity. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your health that can have positive effects on your weight and mental well-being.
Mindful eating: If you concentrate on what you’re eating, you will probably eat more healthily. For example, people who eat while watching television tend to eat too much at one sitting. Practicing mindfulness and being aware of what you are doing has its own benefits.
Healthy food swaps: It can be easier to make small changes than big changes. They’re more likely to stick. Swap white breads for whole grain breads. Swap the frying pan for the grill.
Going easy on yourself: Change doesn't usually happen overnight. Take small steps to improve your food and drink intake, make changes and practice positive self-talk.