PROVO, Utah – Concerns about mental health have continued for many people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But there could be a helping hand in the refrigerator.
Studies show that nutrition can have positive impact on mental wellness, said Annalisa Freire, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at the new Intermountain Spanish Fork Hospital.
“There is research supporting that nutrition affects our mental health – especially depression,” Freire said. “This year that message is more important than ever as we are all looking to overcome the mental effects of COVID.”
There are many simple ways you can change what you eat to make a difference in your mental health. Because everybody’s diet is different, Freire states it is important to choose ways to change your diet that are realistic and appealing to you. She does not recommend making drastic changes or withholding favorite foods, as those actions are not sustainable.
Here are some simple diet adjustments that can lower the risk of depression:
1. Work fruits and vegetables into daily routines. For example, prepare fresh produce right after the trip to the grocery store so it’s ready for snacks and meals. Or, buy frozen or canned produce, which are both budget friendly and convenient.
2. Consider changing grains intake from refined to whole grain options. Look for labels stating “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain.” Brown rice, quinoa, barley and other grains are other great examples.
3. Eat fish or other seafood several times a week.
4. Choose dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free (milk, cheese, and yogurt).
5. When cooking with fats, use unsaturated fats (oils) more often than saturated fats (shortening and butter).