Bowl of colourful food
01 Jan 2021

Mood food

Mentally healthy eating tips

Eating healthily can be hard. But eating foods with healthy vitamins, minerals and a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats gives your brain and your body what they need to help you feel well. 

If you're struggling to feel motivated to eat a well balanced diet, you've got a mental health problem that means you don't have time to think about what you're eating or don't know how to afford to eat well on a budget here are some tips on how to eat well for your mental health. 

Start the day right

If you think you can't find enough time during the day to eat well, focus on having a good breakfast. Eating breakfast is important to give your brain the fuel it needs and evidence shows that eating breakfast has a directly beneficial impact on performance and productivity throughout the day, which means you can feel more content.

Eat something which releases energy slowly, such as oats, wholegrain bread and cereals and your blood sugar levels should remain steady throughout the day which should prevent dips in mood and energy. Yoghurt with fruit, nuts and seeds can give your brain the healthy proteins and fats it needs to help your memory and your mood.

Eat the rainbow

Over a day, keep in mind a rainbow of colours and try to eat some foods which are a colour from across the spectrum - maybe red berries on your golden oats breakfast cereal and purple cabbage in your green salad at lunch.

Don't worry if you can't eat every colour every day, but trying to eat as many rainbow colours as you can each day helps you to stay mindful while eating, which can give your brain a break from thinking about work or life, which is good for your mental health. Different colour foods also contain different vitamins and minerals which are good for your brain and body.

Don’t blow the bank

Eating healthily does not need to mean spending a lot of money on expensive organic, low-sugar, handmade superfoods. You can still eat well on a budget. Shop seasonally for fruit and vegetables and buy ingredients like pasta, rice and beans in bulk as dried goods. Buy fewer items such as fizzy drinks, crisps or ice creams which can be expensive and aren’t very healthy either. Cooking and eating together with friends, flatmates or family is a good way to share the costs and it also gives you the benefit of connecting with others which can help your mental wellbeing.

Get your 5 a day 

Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals which help your brain function, and fibre which is important for healthy digestion and good gut health, which can affect your mental health. Adding more fruit and veg to your diet boosts your mood and emotional wellbeing according to researchers from the University of Leeds and University of York who found that people reported feeling happier, more purposeful and less anxious when they ate more fruit and veg.

Find the right balance

Healthy eating is a lot about balance and finding the right balance of fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, fats and proteins to eat in a day can be a little easier when you understand what each element plays in keeping your body and mind healthy. The NHS Eat Well Guide explains more.

Be active

Try to fit a short bit of activity into your daily routine after you eat a meal. After breakfast think about how you could perhaps cycle to work instead of driving, or walk to the next bus stop. Once you’ve eaten lunch, go for a walk in the rest of your lunch break from work. Following your afternoon snack when you finish work how could you fit in time to join a local craft course or take a yoga class? And when you’ve eaten dinner, try to stand at the sink and wash up your dishes instead of loading them into the dishwasher before you head to the sofa to watch TV.


Find out more about how Able Futures could help you address problems and improve your mental health


Other stories that may interest you

Group of six people wearing blue and red tshirts playing a game with a man in the centre throwing a ball

Moving more for your mental health

How moving our bodies with team sports, sitting less or moving during daily routines can strengthen our physical and mental health. 
Read more
Image of a post it note with the words tell me about yourself written on it

Being compassionate and caring to yourself

Self-care is often thought of as the practice of taking care of our physical health by booking a haircut, having a massage or eating a healthy meal.
Read more
Photo of two young men talking and drinking tea

New year, new you?

Now we're a couple of weeks into 2023, how many of us have managed to stick to the resolutions we made for the new year?
Read more