The importance of eating healthily is known to us all. Without the right diet, it is hard to live the life we would all like to, keeping energy levels high and being able to do the things we enjoy. However, it is not all about the physical benefits of a healthy diet. Eating the right things can have a beneficial effect on your mental well-being too.
The truth is that mental health and physical health are interconnected. If you are eating too little, or too much of the wrong thing, then you are going to suffer mentally for it as well as physically. Your brain requires nourishment every bit as much as your body, and a lack of protein in your diet can result in the onset or aggravation of depression.
If you suffer from depression, then one of the main negative effects of the illness is a lack of energy, a situation which affects your ability to fight the condition. Eating the right things is important, and while often depression sufferers will feel that they do not want to eat at all it is important that they make the effort. Rather than eating “comfort food” – which is rarely very comforting – getting some fresh fruit and veg, as well as carbohydrates from pasta or potatoes can help.
Drinking plenty of fluid is also important for mental health. Ideally, five glasses or more of water a day will prevent you from becoming dehydrated and depriving your body and mind of the fuel that is so important. Having the energy and the sharpness to send the symptoms of depression packing is essential, and your diet will play a big part in this.
Fast food is, and will no doubt continue to be, one of the most secure industries in the world. The simple truth of the matter is that sometimes, we look for the quickest option when we are on the move. So it does not appear that fast food will disappear from the high street any time soon. From a healthy eating point of view, the question has to be whether we turn a blind eye to it or find healthy fast food. Does healthy fast food even exist, though?
Well, if fast food is a secure industry, then healthy eating is one that compares with it. While many of us need to eat on the move, there are certainly enough people around who don’t want to compromise on their healthy eating plan. There are options for healthy fast food, even if we tend not to define it as such.
The best fast and healthy option for many of us is a sandwich. Certainly, the number of sandwich chains around the country is testament to how much people enjoy a good sandwich, and the advantage is that sandwiches are readily customizable. Admittedly, not all sandwiches are healthy, but it is up to you how you have them. A chicken salad sandwich on wholemeal with no mayo is certainly healthier than a burger and fries – and the level of variation compared to burgers means that it is a choice that need not get boring. Most sandwich shops also do wraps, pasta salads and other variations too.
Healthy eating is not something that necessarily follows an easy pattern. It would be great if we could simply flick a switch and change our habits to make our diet healthier, but as we have free will and free choice, we will always be tempted to do something that may hurt us long-term. This means that we are reluctant to make a huge change – what if it fails, and we have gone to so much effort for something to fall apart?
Instead of making one big change, there is a lot to be said for starting small and making several little changes that will be easier to maintain. Those smaller changes may seem to be nothing, but they add up. When you get up tomorrow morning and you have a choice between bacon and eggs and toast and cereal, think about what your body actually wants – there are more nutrients in the latter, and they won’t cause a mid-morning crash.
When you are offered “fries with that” if you go for a burger, say “no thanks” and enjoy a small treat that doesn’t cause you to feel like you’ve transgressed. When you are asked how you would like your eggs, don’t say “fried” or “I like mine with a kiss”. The latter is bad for you and the second isn’t funny. Try having them scrambled or poached – in all honesty there is more taste and less fat from having them this way. Small changes like this soon add up.