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Food for Mental Health & Well-being

Our diet plays an important part of helping not only our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing. Following the Happy Café Hapus talk, many of you requested more information regarding food and what to include in your diet.

There are many studies that point out the link of food choices that are associated with a reduced risk in depression among adults.

Further evidence lies in the link between food, mood and brain health that look at how what we eat can help our neurotransmitters and support mental wellbeing.

A healthy pattern between eating fresh fruit and vegetables can be positively associated with happiness and inversely with depression.

With this in mind, we need to be thinking about including food that looks to reduce inflammation in the body (often associated with depression) and include food that is anti-inflammatory and will help our health – both mental and physical.

Many of these items are available to buy in our local shops. It is all too easy sometimes to drift away and rely on easy to pick up items or grab a sandwich at lunch -doing this occasionally, is ok, and you know we are all sometimes in a pickle (excuse the pun) and need to pick up something quickly – but doing this on more than 3 times a week or not including any fruit or fresh veg in your meals at least once a day will have an impact - in the short term with sugar spikes and in the longer term with your overall health and wellbeing.

So, here is a short list of food items and suggestions with ways to benefit your health.

Food for positive health and energy

Food that support great brain health

Foods that support your immune system

Low glycaemic index, fibre, protein and complex carbs

Neurotransmitter stimulating food and amino acids

Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antioxidant

Sweet Potatoes


Brown Rice






Red Meat (local and organic)

Green leafy veg – spinach, broccoli, kale,



Nuts *not salted



Berries (esp. blueberries)







Omega 3 (oily fish)




Fermented food like Kimchi

Food that include Vit C (fresh fruit and veg), B Vitamins, iron

Pumpkin seeds


Red Peppers

Citrus Fruit




Green Tea





Olive Oil

Dark Chocolate (over 70%)




It is often daunting when thinking about making changes to your diet. Diet and what we eat are often linked to our upbringing, comfort, routine, time of year – especially with Christmas coming etc. Our gut has got used to certain foods and sometimes you will get a reaction if you make big changes. I would like to suggest that you think about changing one thing in your daily diet.

Think about making a swap or think about including some of these items onto your shopping list and start to incorporate them into your daily or weekly diet. It is good also to have positive images of food, or why certain food is good for us, pinned to the fridge or door to the kitchen! And maybe keep the high fat, high sugar food in a separate drawer with a warning label. Out of sight and out of mind is a proven way to help reduce cravings….

Foods considered to be “inflammatory”

Linked to depression

Food to reduce in your daily diet


More Information


Always look on packets for anything with “ose” in the ingredients, like fructose, sucrose etc.

Causes cytokine- good for fighting off virus, etc, but often “bad” as linked to increased inflammation

Saturated Fats

Avoid food that are high in saturated fat – e.g. that pizza with extra cheese

Trans Fats

We talked about this in the food session where we look at how certain fats have a chemical process linked to them and can cause a systemic inflammation – e.g. processed or fried food, margarine, doughnuts, Hydrogenated oil etc

Omega 6

Not to be confused with Omega 3. Whilst a small amount is actually good for us, an excessive amount can trigger and inflammatory response – so peanuts, vegetable oil, mayonnaise, sunflower oil etc

Refined Carbohydrates

So, any kind of flour that is super white – processed foods, white processed bread, or instant mash, oven chips, crisps etc


Monosodium glutamate – usually found in preserved foods, such as bacon, sausages, deli meat, prepared soups or high salt foods


No, you don’t have to do a gluten free diet, but reducing your gluten will help reduce inflammation – read labels, but gluten is a protein in wheat.

Excessive Alcohol

Alcohol can sometimes cause an inflammation response that is often called a “leaky gut” – where bacterial toxins can move from your intestines to the rest of the body and potentially cause organ damage

Then think about food not being a “treat” for a bad day, or low mood. Get to the Happy Café Hapus – start a conversation, go for a walk, remember why you want to feel better, have a bath, read a book. ANYTHING to take your mind off it. Don’t watch adverts with their “tempting delights”…. Have a Naughty Day, but not every day. Have a REALLY HEALTHY day one day. It will take time to change. It is different eating food in other people’s houses, so think about being kind to yourself and making slow, but progressive changes to health. Xx


Rachel x

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