Eating a healthy and balanced diet with regular meals throughout the day
will improve your sense of wellbeing. Making sure your body has all the energy it needs (and the right kind of energy) will
make you feel physically well and will help to regulate your mood and emotions.
Although there are lots of specific foods that are thought to alleviate some mental and emotional
health problems, in general it is just common sense. 'Junk' food is not just junk for the body it is also junk for the mind.
Small changes in your lifestyle can have a big impact for your wellbeing. This is about eating well most of the time, not
about completely denying yourself the things you enjoy.
Some basic rules of eating for wellbeing are:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables - the nutrients contained in these are an essential part of wellbeing.
- Protein-rich foods such as fish, chicken and turkey help the brain to make the chemicals that enhance
your mood. Choosing these sources of protein over red meat has the additional benefit of being more healthy and lower in fat.
- Cut down on sugary and processed foods as these can increase your levels of irritabiltity, tiredness
and make you feel more emotional.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine - this will help to keep your mood more stable.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol as it acts as a depressant.
- Listen to your body - if you want to eat small, light meals and snacks throughout the day rather than
breakfast, lunch and dinner, do it. Eating a small amount of food more frequently will stabilize your blood sugar levels,
leading to a reduction in mood swings.
- Replacing white or refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, pasta and rice) with their wholemeal
equivalents will be beneficial to your wellbeing. These foods have a lower glycaemic index, which means that they will release
energy into your body at a slower rate. This helps to reduce stress and stabilises your mood.
The following recipes all contaon ingredients that boost your mental health,
decrease your stress levels and improve your mood. They are easy to create and taste great too.
Banana, strawberry and cranberry smoothie
1 cup of strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 carton of cranberry juice
Blend together the bananas, strawberries and cranberry juice and add ice if required.
Butternut squash and chilli soup
Serves 4. Cooking time 45 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion cut into large chunks
1 butternut squash peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and cut in half lengthways
1 1/2 pints vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the oil in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the chilli, garlic cloves and chunks of onion
into the pan, then place the large chunks of butternut squash on top of them. Mix everything around to coat everything in
Place in a preheated (180 degress centigrade) oven and cook for 35 minutes or until the squash softens.
Empty the contents of the roasting tin into a large saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Either blend in the pan with a hand blender or transfer the contents od the pan into a blender. Blitz until smooth then season
to taste. Serve with wholemeal bread. Any leftover soup can be frozen in portions.
Turkey and cashew nut stir-fry
Serves 4. Cooking time 30 minutes.
450g/1lb skinless, boneless turkey breast cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
2 different colour peppers, cut into thin strips
1 head of brocolli cut into small florets
1 courgette, sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2-4 large spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 handful cashew nuts
Place in a large non-stick wok or frying pan over a high heat. Add a small
amount of olive oil and fry off turkey in batches until brown. Set aside.
Turn the heat down to a medium level then heat the rest of the oil in the same pan. Add the red onion,
garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, brocolli and courgette and stir-fry for another 8-10 minutes.
Return the turkey to the pan and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and sweet chiil sauce and spring onion and
stir in, cooking for another few minutes.
Sprinkle with cashew nuts and serve with wholemeal rice or noodles.
Banana and walnut cake
55g/2oz caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
170g/60z self-raising flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
55g/2oz walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4.
Cream the butter and sugar togther in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the beaten eggs adding a little
flour if the mixture begins to curdle. Stir in the flour, mashed bananas and walnuts. Add a little milk if necessary. Put
mixture into a non-stick loaf tin.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted
into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake t cool for a few minutes in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool