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Mental Health and Food
Health&Wellness,  Life with N

5 Foods That Help Me Maintain My Mental Health

One of my favourite topics to think, talk and write about!! F O O D!

|TRIGGER WARNING| This post contains stories of being weighed, body shaming, and food. If these are triggers for you, please don`t read. I`m sharing my story of coming to understand the relationship between food and my mental health.

Blue cupcake with sprinkles

I am a major foodie and enjoy all things food. The more cheese, the better. Unless there is bread. Then both of those combined are even BETTER. And, I have a sweet-tooth. Oh yum, now I`m thinking, donuts, cinnamon buns, and cupcakes with buttercream frosting. My true weakness though? Chips. I L O V E chips. Well… I love all things. All different kinds of food, sweets, and salty foods.

You get the picture? I love food.

My whole life I have sort of always thought this to be a bad thing. Like a flaw. If I could just fix that one thing about me, then maybe I wouldn`t be broken anymore. I could lose weight, because I wouldn`t have such a desire to consume food. I had this thought that food was the issue. That, it was all because of food. Everything that I deemed wrong with me.

I live with Bipolar 2 Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Neither of these make it any easier understanding my relationship with food.

My anxiety often takes over and runs my mental health into the ground, and before I know it, I am curled up in a ball sobbing.

Food has always been the enemy in my life and in my mind. I have always been at war with food.

I read this quote, though, forgive me, because I can`t remember who it`s from, but it said something along the lines of if you stopped depriving your body of the foods that you actually wanted to eat, you`d notice that you overate less.

I`ve been carrying that with me every day now for 2 weeks, because it`s kept me grounded. It`s made me feel safe.

See, I`ve had to learn that food isn`t the issue, but rather my mind, and how it thinks. I`ve always thought skinny = beautiful. But, just on me. For everyone else, I just think everyone is beautiful. I`ve always been intensely critical and mean to myself. I`ve spent my life feeling undeserving and unworthy of everything.

Yogurt and granola

Flashback to grade 5 phys-ed class and even remembering it brings tears of embarassment and shame to my eyes. I was weighed, and the weight announced, in front of my entire class. I remember how badly I wished I could just leave that school and never return. Along with that, we were tested on how long you could stay up after you did a pull up (which, let me tell you, I STILL can`t do, and I am the strongest now than I`ve ever been in my life), and obviously, I failed that test too.

There were push-ups, and sit-ups on this test, but I never even knew how to do those, and now I was being tested?! I`m sure it`s easy to see that I didn`t enjoy this class.

On a regular basis I felt not good enough to participate, and not comfortable enough to even want to try. It`s when I started learning that my body was not okay, and I had something to be ashamed of. It`s when my mental health deteriorated fast and I was left feeling like I had nothing to offer, just because of my shape, size, and weight.

Now, maybe things are different. I sure hope they are anyways. It was at this point that I knew sports weren`t my thing. Though I never even had gotten to try (and now I love sports, so maybe I would have then).

This is just a small tidbit of my hate relationship with my body. I hated it, and gave up on it, and felt it failed me. Even as a child.

When I think about that now, it makes me cringe. For a child to feel so sad, and so betrayed by their body. For a child to be taught that they are valued solely based on a number, and physical performance. This hurts me still to think about, and directly affected my mental health.

When I read that quote above, it just kept sitting with me. I couldn`t get it out of my head. It`s what has helped me to stop weighing myself 4 times a day. . . yes . . . I was at a point of weighing myself 4 times a day, and hating myself for it more and more every single day. But, I couldn`t stop. Being so completely obsessed with this, I felt completely unworthy of taking time for self-love and self-care.

It`s been 14 days since I weighed myself. I have been enjoying food, and paying close attention to what my body is saying. Taking the time to learn what my body is saying to me, and taking the time to listen to it.

I`ve still been loving food though. I`m working through an understanding that food isn`t my enemy. Food is fuel, and how I fuel my body is directly related to how my body and mind feels.

Buffet style set up with beautiful plates of food.
There are some foods that I enjoy a little more, simply because I know they have a positive effect on me and my body/mind. Some of these are:
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • carrots
  • snap peas
  • almonds

I try to not have too too many carbs/grains, simply because they leave me feeling very full and groggy/tired. When I am tired, I get rather emotional, and when I am emotional, the wheels start turning in my head, and before I know it, I am in full breakdown mode and sobbing. So, not good for my mental health. I enjoy few fruit, so when I have those on hand then I do like them, but I don`t go wild about them. Yogurt is a staple in my house is as well. I find it light, but still filling.

I think me and my body will always be on a journey together, and while I can pick a part every one of it`s flaws, it definitely does a lot of good for me, and is a safe space to live in. My body is my home, and only now, at 29, am I beginning to understand what that means.

Food is not my enemy, nor even is my mind. Once I begun understanding that food is fuel. Sometimes you`re gonna cheap out and get the crap, but goes faster maybe fuel (bad analogy maybe?) and sometimes you`re going to invest a little more and make yourself beautiful substantial meals.

And, either way, as long as you are okay, healthy, happy, and at peace, then what else matters?

Sliced toast with healthy toppings on them like strawberries, kiwi, and apples

If you are someone who struggles with your relationship with food, then I hope you know that it is most certainly not a fault, nor weakness of yours. You are worthy and deserving of all the love, and affection in the world. I know you are hurting. I know that feeling, and I also just want to tell you, it`s okay. It`s okay to hurt, and to feel, or to even just be confused by what is going on. Remember please, your body is where you live. It`s your home. But, it doesn`t define you. Your beautiful spirit and soul… the way you sparkle.. that`s what defines you.

I spent so much of my life, simply wanting to be normal, and now I wonder, what even is normal? I`m sure we all have our struggles. We all have a story.

So, whether or not your story/struggle is surrounding food, or not, it`s okay to have it. It`s okay to say you`re not okay. It`s also okay to be gentle with yourself, and let yourself have triggers and cues, and really lean into them. Listen to what your body is telling you. Hear/feel what your mind is saying.

If I could go back to that girl in grade 5, first thing I think I`d give her a hug. She was humiliated. Then, I think the teacher could use some educating as well, for this is simply not the way we teach children to love, respect, and care for their bodies.

What are some of your go-to foods? Do you find any foods have a direct impact on your mental health?

Love Always, N

P.S. Don`t forget to read about my tips surrounding stress management over here! (click here)

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40 Comments

  • Ash

    It’s horrifying that schools weigh kids and announce everyone’s to the class. Im so relieved my school didn’t do that, but even then I still hated my body and the fact that I wasnt athletic. Well done for putting a stop to weighting yourself. Food isnt the enemy but it takes time to start believing that

  • Ashley

    Our relationship with food is often so difficult. I binge eat. It’s so difficult to build a positive relationship with food. Like you, I have learnt to be more positive about healthy foods as I have matured. Great post xxx

  • Sophie

    Food is soooo important I think a lot of people look past it but I’ve seen such a positive change in my body and mind since moving to a ‘healthier’ diet 🙂 Thanks for sharing, loved this post!

  • Holly

    Wonderful post! First and foremost – I want to say that I am SO SORRY for what happened to you as a girl in the 5th grade. I, too, would love nothing more than to swoop her up and let her know that some people are ignorant and aren’t doing the right thing – your teacher being a classic example of this. My goodness, what were they thinking (or not!)? Kids at that age are already susceptible to unloving tendencies. For some kids who were already on the edge of a really bad decision – this could have altered them for life. (sigh) My heart extends to you for having had to endure that.

    You are absolutely right. Women have been programmed for so long that the lies have been adopted as truth. It is nothing shy of tragic in my opinion. I love the initiative called, “Beauty Redefined at http://www.beautyredefined.org because they are reminding each of us that our bodies are an instrument – not an ornament! We were never made to be scrutinized for our sizes or shapes. That’s why it feels so terribly damaging. It is! We were made to live with purpose, to have value that has nothing to do with our bodies.

    I am eternally grateful that you are beginning to love and accept your body. Food in and of itself doesn’t have power. We however do have the power and food is simply here for our enjoyment – not our punishment. While it’s true that some choices are healthier than others – enjoying the not so healthy stuff from time to time is okay too! Understanding *why* we eat is critically important too. Loving ourselves can only lead to better health in our minds, bodies and spirits. We’re worth it. You’re worth it. And I’m praying that every day increases your self love to see how beautifully and wonderfully made you are! 💕 ~ Holly

    • admin

      Thank you so much for these kind words! I will definitely be checking out that initiative, thank you so much for sharing. You are a special and lovely soul and I appreciate you spending your time and energy on my blog today💜

  • Beth Gray

    I’ve realised for myself that my relationship with food is simply a reflection of what is happening in my life – “how I do anything is how I do everything”. And so, if I find myself binging (food, Netflix, or even work)… something is out of balance and I have gone into “avoidance”.
    So… it’s not about the food – it’s about me.
    And I love to hide in the food, rather than face life.

    As I practice being courageous, I take the challenge of life, rather than avoidance. Then I get to enjoy food and savour it, rather than being afraid of it.

    But it’s taken me years.

    • admin

      This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate the thought of food being a reflection of what is happening in your life. I think that I am the same way. This is very insightful. 💜

  • Emma

    There’s a lot of weight shaming even with really young kids and sadly I don’t think it’s got better since we were kids. I still remember being tested on sit ups and pull ups. Or the bleep test to see how quickly you could run and if you didn’t make it you were out. The combination of the way we get taught about weight and are shamed about our fitness level is so toxic

    • admin

      Yes it IS. It’s like we are taught right from the beginning what the expectations of what we need to look like and what we need to eat and how our body needs to perform. Thank you for this comment. 💜

  • Kayleigh

    It’s so horrible that you had to experience that as a child. I have the same problem and always want myself to be skinny but always see others as beautiful exactly as they are! I’m also trying to not deprive myself of foods that I want altogether and just have a tiny bit of something, and then I’ll try and be good the next day. It seems to be working so far! It’s hard to get out of that mindset sometimes but I’m working towards it.

    Kayleigh x
    https://hazelnutmusings.co.uk/

  • Kayleigh Zara

    Weight issues and body image was certainly something I suffered with more in my teen years, as I’ve grown I’ve learnt to realise that not everyone will look the same and it is better to eat to suit what your body needs. I work alot so I try to eat a healthier diet with lots of protein to keep me going or I find that I get tired really easily. Thanks for sharing x

    • admin

      Yes, I think that’s an important lesson, that not everyone is going to look the same and to eat what our body needs. Thank you for sharing this! Sending love!

  • The Newbury Girl

    Thank you so much for sharing your story – it always takes so much courage to be honest. I’m glad to read that you have been developing a positive mindset towards food being fuel for your body because that is so true! Also, thinking of your body as a home is a beautiful way to describe the body and something that resonated with me.

    Btw I love almonds, too!!

  • Sydney

    I love this post! We often don’t hear the connection between the mind and food – food is always in relation to the body or weight loss. But sometimes eating to promote our mental health and total well-being is more important than the number on the scale. Thank you for this inspiration!

  • Sarah Mark

    What a wonderful post! You are so right food is fuel and it can still be enjoyed just in moderation (I love cake). If I were to eat cake all day I wouldn’t be fueling my body properly and it would start to shut down just like if you are not eating enough. I am glad some foods have a positive impact on your mood and general wellbeing, I also love yoghurt it is so light and filling at the same time, I also love almonds and hazelnuts.

  • Amber Dunn

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. So many of us wish they could go back and tell our younger selves (and maybe even those around us) that food doesn’t define us. To let us know that normal is an opinionor a view and healthy is our best option.

  • Darina

    I love your post. It did resonate with me a lot. I do struggle with weight loss and I often feel guilty for eating something sweet. I will keep in mind your encouraging words next time I eat something I crave😊. Thank you for sharing.

  • Carolyn

    This is an absolutely beautiful post. There are so many influences out there that make us feel bad about our bodies and stop us from loving ourselves. And this can all be tied up with the food you eat! I tend to love junk food myself (YES CHIPS!), but you’re right: food is fuel. And no matter what you eat, you have value and are worthy of love. Thanks for the great post.

  • Louise

    Weight seems to be one of the biggest issue we girls are having. Body imkage and what other people or ourselves think we look like or how we should look like. No matter if it makes us happy or not. Once there’s an understanding of sorts, it makes it easier… I think.

    I look at myself sometimes and although I am at my weight for my height and age, I have a small belly and it annoys me. I wish I could get rid of it… get a toner stomach and all but I will never diet for it. I came to be… kinda okay with it. I’m 41, too, so, might as well stop fighting it.

    I love food, too. Chocolate, chips,… I fall into that and can’t stop myself.

    • admin

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I agree… Body image is an issue. Adults and children alike. Good for you for accepting your body. I think that’s amazing.

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