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Monday, March 4, 2019

Study Links Fruits and Veggies to Better Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health is a big part of recovery, especially if you’re dealing with a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness. Your mental health is crucial for whole-body healing – it’s one part in the process of healing your mind, body and spirit for lasting sobriety.

There are many things you can do to safeguard your mental health during recovery – for example, meditation, journaling, exercise and proper rest. And, according to a new study, loading up on fruits and veggies might help, too.

The study: Researchers from the University of Leeds based their study on a smaller 2016 study from Australia that found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to improvements in a person’s psychological well-being. They wanted to determine whether the findings would hold true with a larger pool of study participants, so they evaluated the habits of more than 40,000 individuals from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. The results: The higher fruit and veggie consumption, the higher self-reported rates of mental well-being and life satisfaction.

While the researchers noted that healthy eating can’t replace proper mental health treatment, they did say that “adding just one serving of fruits or vegetables daily may have as many benefits for mental well-being as adding seven to eight walks per month to your physical regimen.”

Eating Better for a Better You
One of the reasons we chose to talk about this study is that March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help people make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits.

It’s the perfect time to commit to small changes in your diet – like eating an extra piece of fruit or side salad with your meal – that can eventually lead to big changes in how you feel and how your body and mind function. You don’t need to overhaul your entire diet, but prioritizing proper nutrition and physical exercise can help assist with the healing process. It can also provide you with increased energy and focus so you’re able to do the hard work of recovery.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are a few more healthy eating tips adopted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
  • Balance your plate: A great way to increase your veggie intake is to double up your veggie servings. In general, a healthy, balanced diet should include whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich fruits and veggies and a small amount of healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, eggs).
  • Remove energy zappers: Skip the soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks – which can cause energy crashes – and instead opt for water, fat-free or low-fat milk or unsweetened decaf tea.
  • Honor fullness cues: Portion control is an important part of a healthy diet. If your meal carries you five to six hours without hunger pangs, it's likely that you're overeating. Try to eat so you’re comfortably full or not stuffed – this means reaching a 5 or 6 on a scale of 0 (starving) to 10 (painfully full).
  • Don’t skip snacks: The right snack can help keep energy levels high and prevent any cravings. Try to choose snacks with a combo of protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Consider an apple with a handful of nuts, or a serving of carrots and string cheese.
Nourish Your Recovery at The Haven
Our staff helps you create dietary patterns that support your physical and mental health and correct any nutritional deficiencies due to years of substance abuse. To learn more about our nutritional education and chef-prepared meals, call us today: 805-202-3440.