March is National Nutrition Month, so let’s discuss the role nutrition plays in your mental health and well-being!

Dr. Jacka, director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University and President of the International Society of Nutritional Psychiatry, stated in the New York Times “Mental health is complex, eating a salad is not going to cure depression. But there’s a lot you can do to lift your mood and improve your mental health, and it can be as simple as increasing your intake of plants and healthy foods.”

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Many plants are high in fiber, which has been linked to reduced risk of anxiety, stress, and depression due to fiber’s anti-inflammatory effect. Add some spinach to your sandwiches, roasted cauliflower as a side to your dinner, or some steamed broccoli for easy ways to incorporate high-fiber plants into your meals.

Along with fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium are all important to include in your diet. Salmon, mushrooms, bok choy, soy beverages, and orange juice are all great ways to include calcium and vitamin D. A banana is an easy snack that adds potassium to your diet!

Bookmark these additional tips for your nutrition.

  • Keep fresh fruit handy as a snack.
    • Oranges, bananas, and apples don’t need constant refrigeration. Slice them beforehand for even more convenience!
  • Pack lunch, dinner, and/or snacks to stay in control of options.
  • Avoid or limit sugar-loaded drinks.
    • Make your coffee at home and use sugar-free syrups & creamers or opt for sugar-free sodas or seltzer waters.
  • Stay hydrated — thirst often disguises itself as hunger.
    • Keep a reusable water bottle around and refill it throughout the day.
  • Travel with smart nonperishable options for snacks or even lunch in a pinch.
    • Try low-sugar, high protein energy bars or single-serve whole grain cereal packs.
    • Carry a granola bar in your bag or keep them in your car for emergencies.
  • Choose foods high in protein and fiber to stay fuller longer.
    • Instead of a bagel for breakfast, try egg bites.
  • Don’t skip meals.
    • Skipping meals can lead to mindless munching during the day.
  • Canned and frozen veggies are speedy sides and can be more nutritious than fresh, and last longer than food in the fridge!
  • Don’t skip breakfast!
    • Grab-and-go choices include low-fat cheese sticks, fresh fruit, and low-fat yogurt tubes or smoothies.
  • Cut veggies ahead of time and freeze for later!

Social media is inundated with food trends and claims about different kinds of food. Oftentimes, advice can be conflicting. Keeping it simple is typically the best solution for overwhelm when it comes to nutrition.