Food and Mental Health
We know that food is key to survival, and that nutrition affects our physical health. But what’s less often discussed is our diet’s effect on our mental health. Studies have shown that the food we eat affects the way our brains function, impacting our mental well-being and even our mood.
Harvard Health explains that “about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons.” Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that inhibits pain and regulates things like sleep, appetite, and mood. When you consider all this, “it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.”
Healthy eating promotes mental health. To start to understand how your diet affects your mental state, experts recommend spending two or three weeks on a “clean” diet that cuts out processed foods and sugar. After that period, start adding other foods back into your diet, and you’ll be able to determine how those foods make you feel.
What Is Trauma-informed Nutrition?
In addition to considering how food makes us feel, it’s also important to pay attention to how we feel about food. This is where trauma-informed nutrition comes in. This method of nutrition planning accounts for the fact that “historical, systemic, childhood, and food-related trauma can disrupt the way our bodies and minds function, therefore increasing the risk of chronic disease and negative relationships with food.”
Understanding our relationship with food can help us determine the kinds of healthy foods that best suit our individual lifestyles, needs, and particulars. Trauma-informed nutrition considers things like:
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Triggering foods
- Culturally responsive foods
- Managing stress while cooking
- Exercising self-determination in diet choices
- The role of food and meal sharing in social circles
Here at Appetite For Change, we understand how important food choice can be for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. We use food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. We bring people together to learn, cook, eat, and grow food, creating change that lasts. Donate today to support our incredible impact in North Minneapolis! Together, we can create well-rooted and flourishing change!