So many Australian’s suffer with their mental health, and while diet may not be solely to blame, it can play a role in mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

You may have asked yourself, ‘Is my diet affecting my mental health’, or ‘What should I be eating to improve my mental health?’ But the reality is, when you’re feeling down it can be really hard to make sure that you’re eating a nutritious diet.

Have you been experiencing a loss of motivation when it comes to food? This could look like low appetite, cravings for sugary, fatty, fast foods, or even anxiety around meal times.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to this, which is why of you have a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or a history of trauma, it’s likely that you’ll need to book an appointment in order to feel your best.

However, here are my 3 tips that are going to help you feel a whole lot better:

#1) Make sure you’re getting enough protein.

Did you know that protein is required to make the neurotransmitters that are required for mood & sleep regulation?

In very simple terms neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that tell your nervous system how it should be feeling. An example of a neurotransmitter that you may have heard of is serotonin.

Basically, if you don’t get enough protein you aren’t able to produce the neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) which are crucial food good mental health.

Here are some foods that contain protein:

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Red meat

  • Turkey

  • Legumes (lentils, red kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans)

  • Quinoa

  • Eggs

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

The general rule of thumb is to aim for approximately 20-30g of protein per meal, plus a smaller amount of protein with snacks.

Here is a guide showing how much protein is in common foods:

  • 1 egg: 6g protein

  • 100g tofu: 17g protein

  • 100g chicken: 23.9g protein

  • 100g quinoa: 16.5g protein

  • 100g rice: 7.6g protein

  • 100g soybean: 36.1 protein

  • 100g beans: 28g protein

  • 100g steak: 27.3g protein

  • 100g salmon: 20.9g protein

#2) Eat the Rainbow!

Have you heard of the gut microbiome?

We have trillions of bacteria living in our gut. There are two groups of bacteria –

Beneficial bacteria & not so beneficial bacteria (or bacteria that is good when it is present in certain amounts, but can often get a bit out of balance)

How does this relate to eating the rainbow?

Having a variety of fresh produce in your daily diet and hence a variety of different fibre sources is really important for feeding the good bacteria in the gut. This supports a healthy gut microbiome.

Why is this important, you might be asking?

Well, a healthy gut microbiome is integral to the production of neurotransmitters. The gut is responsbile for approximately 95% of Serotonin production! Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness (among other things). You may have heard of serotonin if you have been prescribed a class of anti-depressants called Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (or, SSRIs for short).

If you’re eating a variety of different coloured fruits & vegetables daily.

*Note: Generally speaking, consume 1-2 pieces of fruit daily. More than this is not generally appropriate in anxiety or depression.

#3) Get some healthy fats on your plate

Foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, deep ocean caught salmon, sardines, tuna & avocado. Each of these is excellent at reducing the inflammation consistent with depression & anxiety.

Additionally, they have the ability to help modulate serotonin and dopamine (another neurotransmitter, responsible for how we feel pleasure) levels.

When it comes to fish, it’s important to understand that these qualities are cancelled out when the fish is deep fried. So make sure that you’re cooking your fish at home or ordering out choose fish cooked on either on a pan, in the oven, or in the griller (grilled fish from the fish and chip shop? Still inflammatory).

As you can see, there is so much that can be done in the diet to reduce anxiety and depression.

When booking a Naturopathic appointment these are just some of the things that I will help faciliate for you to improve your mental health. Ofen if you’ve been expereincing anxiety &/or depression for a while, or it’s not just mild, you may need support from other avenues as well. As a Naturopath I am also able to support you with the use of herbal and supplemental medicines, with fantastic scientific research behind them showing just how beneficial they can be in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can do so by:

Heading here to book an appointment or a 15 minute free discovery call.

Following me on instagram @katieblakelynaturopath

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